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Among the most important protections guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution is the freedom from unlawful searches and seizures. Of course, the concept of what is, or is not, an unreasonable search or seizure is subject to much interpretation.

In a Cape Cod operating under the influence (or “OUI”) case, the question of whether a search and seizure was legal often hinges on whether the arresting officer acted in accordance with the law in stopping the defendant – in other words, did he or she have probable cause for the stop?

If a reviewing court determines that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity prior to stopping the defendant, it is likely that any evidence obtained during the stop (and any search and seizure executed in accordance therewith) will be deemed inadmissible at trial.

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The vast majority of Cape Cod car accident lawsuits are settled out of court. In most cases, the parties’ respective automobile accident liability insurance companies are part of the settlement process and, consequently, are bound by the terms of the settlement.

Sometimes, however, instances arise in which an insurance company may not be part of the settlement negotiations in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit arising from an automobile accident. A recent case explored such a situation and gave instructions for how such matters are to be handled in similar circumstances in the future.

The case at bar differed from the “typical” case in one important respect: one of the primary issues in the underlying litigation was whether the incident giving rise to the suit was an accident or whether it was the result of an intentional act. Importantly, the insurer was not obligated to make certain payments for an intentional act but was obligated to pay for damages arising from an act of negligence.

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It is not unusual for a Cape Cod premises liability, personal injury, or other negligence-based lawsuit to involve multiple claims against multiple defendants. When this happens, a plaintiff may opt to settlement some claims against some parties, while the remaining claims proceed to trial. The procedural hurdles involved in such a situation must be carefully followed, in order to preserve the legal rights of all those involved.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a tenant who sued his landlord and an appliance store, after a stove in his apartment exploded, severely burning the tenant’s right hand. The tenant’s claims against the landlord included negligence, vicarious liability for the store’s negligence, breach of the implied warranty of habitability, and breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. Against the store, the plaintiff sought compensation for negligence, breach of contract as a third-party beneficiary, violation of Massachusetts General Law ch. 93A, and strict liability. Various third-party and cross-claims were also filed in the lawsuit.

The tenant and the store entered into a settlement for $15,000. Without the tenant’s assent, the store filed a motion for entry of a separate and final judgment pursuant to Massachusetts Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b). The landlord opposed the motion. After a hearing, the trial court approved the settlement and ordered the entry of a separate and final judgment dismissing the tenant’s claims against the store. The landlord appealed.

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There are many instances in which life can change in a split second – a car accident, an injury at work, or, perhaps most unsettling of all, being arrested. In any of these events, it is important to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible, but this especially true in the case of being accused of a crime by a police officer. A Cape Cod criminal defense attorney can explain your legal rights and help you defend yourself in court. In the meantime, it is very important that you not speak to police about your case. You do have the right to remain silent, and anything you voluntarily say can be used to convict you later on.

Facts of the Case

The defendant in a recent appellate case was a man whose mother was pulled over allegedly failing to display a valid inspection sticker. As the officer approached the vehicle, he noticed that the defendant – who was a passenger in the right front seat – was not wearing a seat belt. Intending to ticket the defendant for this offense, the officer asked the defendant for his identification. As the defendant was giving the officer his identification, a dark-colored object, which the officer believed could possibly be a weapon, fell between the car seat and the console. After backup arrived, the officer ordered the defendant to step out of the car, arrested him on unrelated but outstanding warrants, and searched the vehicle. A loaded .38 caliber snub-nosed revolver was found.

The defendant was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of a loaded firearm. At trial, the defendant’s mother testified that the gun was hers and that the defendant had no knowledge that it was in the vehicle. Nevertheless, the defendant was convicted on both charges. He appealed, alleging that the motion judge should have granted his motion to suppress the firearm, the evidence was insufficient to prove that the defendant was aware that the firearm in question was loaded, the prosecutor made comments in his closing argument that created a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice, and the trial judge did not instruct the jury that the Commonwealth was required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew the firearm was loaded.

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There are many circumstances that can lead to a Cape Cod slip and fall or premises liability lawsuit. While many such cases involve adults, there can also be situations in which a minor child is injured on another’s property. As with other types of negligence lawsuits, the plaintiff in such a case has the burden of proving that the defendant breached a duty of care, thus proximately causing damages to the injured party.

If you or your child has been hurt by a negligent property owner, you should speak to an attorney about your case as soon as possible, as there is a statute of limitations that limits the time during which you may take legal action.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a woman who brought suit as the parent and the next friend of her a minor child who was allegedly injured as a result of a fall from a zip line that the defendants had installed in their backyard. Because the zip line did not have a seat, the child’s father held him up by the hips and guided him for a few feet before letting him go. The child traveled a short distance and then lost his grip. Reportedly, his father grabbed him as he was falling, but the child’s arm hit the ground and was fractured so severely that several surgeries were required. In their negligence claim, the plaintiffs focused on the defendants’ failure to install a safety seat attachment to the zip line, arguing that this failure rendered the zip line unreasonably dangerous. The plaintiffs also asserted that the defendants had failed to warn the child of the danger of the zip line.

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Under the common law, the “king could do no wrong” – and hence was not subject to a finding of liability in court for negligent or reckless conduct. In modern times, the concept of sovereign immunity can apply to a government, just as it did to a monarchy. Citizens still do not have the “right” to sue a city, state, or even the federal government under the principles of sovereign immunity.

However, most governmental entities have passed laws that allow themselves to be sued, at least in some circumstances. However, there are almost always limitations on such suits, including those involving a Cape Cod wrongful death claim.

Facts of the Case

In a recent unreported case, the plaintiff was a special administratrix who filed suit against the defendant city public health commission, asserting a cause of action for wrongful death and failure to supervise and/or train employees. According to allegations in the plaintiff’s complaint, the decedent was placed into an ambulance that was under the control of the defendant commission after staff members at an inn called 911 and reported that the decedent was experiencing suicidal thoughts. The defendant reportedly disregarded its usual practice of driving a suicidal patient to the hospital with a police escort; when the defendant’s employees opened the ambulance door, the decedent ran into the street, laid down, and was killed by a motor vehicle moving through traffic.

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Under Massachusetts law, there are certain requirements for those who operate motor vehicles within the Commonwealth. In a Cape Cod car accident case, a dispute may arise as to whether a driver was in compliance with these laws at the time of the accident.

It should be noted that some of the rules that affect Massachusetts drivers may not apply to those from out of state who just happen to be passing through at the time of a collision. A recent court case explores the relationship between the amount of time that a nonresident has spent in the state and the requirements for certain insurance coverage.

Facts of the Case

In a recent unreported court case, the plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle that was involved in a two-car wreck allegedly caused by the defendant motorist’s negligence. The plaintiff’s suit also named the driver with whom he was riding at the time of the crash, her motor vehicle accident insurance company, and the defendant motorist’s insurance carrier as defendants in the suit. Only the plaintiff’s negligence claim against the defendant motorist proceeded to trial, the remaining claims having been dismissed on summary judgment or stayed.

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If you are facing prosecution for an alleged criminal act in Cape Cod or elsewhere in Massachusetts, it is important that you know and understand your constitutional rights.  A skillful legal advocate can review the facts and ultimately have a profound impact on your Cape Cod criminal defense case.

One of the rights that is generally afforded under the United States Constitution is the right not to be put on trial a second time for the same criminal offense. Of course, there are some conditions that come with the Double Jeopardy Clause, some of which are long-standing and some of which are still being litigated today.

The United States Supreme Court recently weighed in on a case in which a defendant urged that the clause prevented him from being convicted in both state and federal court for the same basic offense.

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In order to receive Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits for a work-related injury or death, the person filing the claim must be able to show that the accident that led to the injury or death occurred during the course of the worker’s job duties. Usually, this is an easily resolved issue, but sometimes the particular circumstances of an accident can result in substantial disagreement between the parties as to whether the employee was truly acting in the course of his or her employment.

If the worker’s compensation insurance company denies the claim, the matter will likely proceed to a determination by an administrative law judge; this decision may be further appealed, should either side wish to seek review. If you or someone you know is considering filing a claim for a workplace injury or death, now is the time to speak with a Cape Cod workers’ compensation attorney.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case appealed from the Industrial Accident Reviewing Board, the widow of a man who was killed in an automobile accident sought workers’ compensation benefits on the basis that the decedent (who was the principal of a family-owned business) was killed during the course of business. The defendant insurance company denied the claim. A three-day hearing was held before an administrative law judge. The judge denied the widow’s claim, concluding that the trip during which the decedent was killed was not an undertaking that was in the course of the insured company’s business. The Department of Industrial Accidents’ reviewing board summarily adopted the ALJ’s decision. The widow sought further review.

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Hopefully, by now most people know how it important it is to file a claim for damages within the statute of limitations following a Cape Cod accident. However, many individuals may not realize that there can be additional matters of timeliness that must also be complied with, if a case is to be handled as assertively as possible.

One of these important deadlines is the 30-day period for the filing of a notice of appeal following entry of final judgment by a trial court judge. While there are some exceptions to the usual rule, these are few and far between, as the defendants in a recent premises liability lawsuit found out.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a man who fell while maneuvering a pallet jack from his delivery truck to a loading dock operated by the defendants. According to the plaintiff, his fall aggravated osteoarthritis in hip, requiring him to undergo a total hip replacement. The plaintiff’s personal injury lawsuit alleged that the defendants were negligent in failing to maintain the mechanism that bridged the gap between his trailer and their dock, thus causing the accident and his resulting injuries.
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