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Massachusetts Woman’s Wrongful Death Suit Against City Due to Fire Truck’s Delay in Responding to Stabbing Dismissed on Appeal

There can be several different defendants in a Cape Cod wrongful death lawsuit. This can include individuals, businesses, and even governmental entities. While many of the same rules apply regardless of the identity of particular defendants, sometimes there must be a different approach to a certain defendant.

For instance, claims against the government proceed differently in many situations, as compared to cases involving only private citizens or businesses. Sometimes, the claims period is shorter, or notice must be given by a certain date. This can effectively mean that an injured person must act much more quickly when suing a governmental entity.

Also, the government may be immune from certain types of lawsuits. Even where a suit is allowed, there can be limitations on the amount of money damages that can be awarded to a claimant in some cases involving the government.

Facts of the Case

In a recent appellate case, the plaintiff was the personal representative of a woman who went into cardiac arrest and died after an intruder entered her home and stabbed her; the plaintiff, too, was stabbed during the attack. Both women received medical treatment after the stabbing, but the treatment was allegedly delayed because the fire truck that responded to the call went to the wrong address. The plaintiff filed suit against the defendant city (and others), asserting that her decedent’s wrongful death and her own emotional distress were due to the defendants’ negligence, particularly the delay of the defendant city’s employees in responding to the 911 call that was made alerting authorities that an intruder had come into their home and stabbed them.

The defendant city filed a motion seeking dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act. The trial court denied the motion, and the defendant city appealed.

The Court’s Ruling

The court reversed the lower tribunal’s order denying the defendant city’s motion to dismiss the tort claims against it. On appeal, the defendant city argued that the plaintiff’s tort claims were barred by Massachusetts General Laws ch. 258, § 10(j), which describes a public employer’s liability for negligence. After reviewing the pertinent statute, the appellate court agreed with the defendant city that the tort claims against it should have been dismissed by the trial court. Applying the plain language of the statute, the court noted that the harm to the plaintiff had been caused by the “violent and tortious conduct” of a third person (namely, the perpetrator of the stabbings); in the court’s view, this was “exactly the type of claim” that should be excluded under the statute.

While it may have been theoretically possible for the plaintiff to have prevailed on a negligent medical treatment theory of liability, she did not make any such allegation against the defendant city and, thus, dismissal of her case was the appropriate remedy on appeal.

Legal Advice Available in Cape Cod

There’s never an easy time to lose a loved one, but a loss can be especially painful when it was caused by someone else’s mistake or error in judgment. If you have lost a loved one and believe that another’s negligence or carelessness was the cause of your loss, the Law Offices of John C. Manoog III may be able to help. For a free Cape Cod wrongful death case consultation, call us now at 888-262-6664. Don’t put off the call, or else you may forfeit your right to pursue compensation if a claim is not timely filed.

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