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Articles Posted in Premises Liability

When someone is injured in a drunk driving accident, the first instinct is often to seek compensation from the intoxicated driver. Although the driver is certainly one of the sources from which you can recover damages, there may be others. In MA, dram shop liability laws allow victims to seek compensation from a business that over-serves alcohol to an intoxicated person.

A “dram shop” is a business that sells alcohol, and may include bars, nightclubs, social clubs, sporting venues, and liquor stores. Historical note – the term dram shop comes from alcohol’s traditional unit of measure, the dram. A MA injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a drunk driver who was over-served.

Last year, an Oregon man filed a $3.9 million wrongful death lawsuit against the driver that injured him and killed his father, as well as against the bar that served the visibly-intoxicated driver. The fatal accident was initially a hit and run, but police eventually tracked down the driver. In addition to the driver’s own negligence, the lawsuit alleges that the bar was negligent in over-serving her.

Dram Shop Responsibilities

Those who serve alcohol – bartenders, servers, and liquor store clerks, to name a few – have a responsibility to determine when a patron is visibly intoxicated. They are required to observe slurred speech and other associated behaviors. To do so, they must receive proper training, the provision of which is a requirement of the establishment’s owner. Dram shops in MA typically carry liability insurance to protect themselves in the event that an intoxicated driver leaves their establishment and causes an accident, or in any way harms another.

Wrongful Death Claims and Dram Shops

When a dram shop over-serves a patron and someone is injured as a result, the victim can sue for damages, including pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, and other associated costs. If someone is killed, the victim’s family may bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the intoxicated driver and the dram shop. In a wrongful death lawsuit, medical expenses may be recovered, as well as damages for funeral costs, the loss of the victim’s income, and loss of consortium. A Boston wrongful death attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve lost a loved one to another’s negligence.

Social Host Laws

In MA, it is against the law to allow a minor (anyone under the age of 21) to consume alcohol on your property. If you are caught doing so, you may face criminal penalties under MA’s social host laws. However, social host laws differ from dram shop laws in that a social host cannot be liable if a guest – adult or minor – becomes intoxicated and harms another. A dram shop case is a civil case in which a business is sued for over-serving someone who, in turn, causes harm to another. A social host case, on the other hand, is a criminal case in which a social host is charged with serving an underage guest on their property. Continue reading

In 2012, David Moradi was attacked by security staff in a Las Vegas nightclub, leaving him with a traumatic brain injury. The Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino’s Marguee nightclub was ordered to pay Moradi a whopping $160.5 million for compensatory damages. But he also sought another $483 million in punitive damages to punish the nightclub for bad behavior and deter staff from engaging in similar behavior in the future. Moradi has since settled with the nightclub for an undisclosed amount.

The 2014 lawsuit alleges that security and a manager forced Moradi into a private room where they demanded that he show identification and give them a credit card. All of this occurred after, Moradi claims, he had already paid a $10,000 tab. According to the Marquee’s attorneys, there was an issue with Moradi’s signature on the original bill. Moradi, who claims he was a VIP guest at the Marquee, accuses staff of doing a lot more than just asking for his signature. A Boston injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been unlawfully detained.

Moradi Feared for His Life

“The Marquee security members and manager shoved David to the ground, causing his head to forcefully hit the concrete surface … The Marquee security members and manager repeatedly hit and smashed David’s head into the concrete and continually held his head and right eye against the concrete with a high degree of pressure … Still pressing his head to the concrete, they asked, ‘Are you going to cooperate and give your ID back?’ Believing he could be killed, David agreed in order to end the violent attack.”

At the time of the accident, Moradi was a hedge fund manager, earning approximately $11 million annually. Since then, he has been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and his hedge fund closed its doors. Although the amount of the settlement remains unknown, it is likely that it was between the $160.5 million in compensatory damages and the $640 million in total that he asked for. Based on jury interviews, it is highly unlikely that the initial $160.5 million award was appealed. “I would have given him everything,” said juror Sara Sanguinetti, “the way we saw the evidence.” A MA injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been harmed by another’s negligent or intentional actions.

Security Guards, Bouncers, and the Use of Excessive Force

Individuals in these industries are more prone to using excessive force than other groups due to the nature of their work. Physical force is a factor of their jobs, and there is a fine line between appropriate and excessive force. Security guards and bouncers can easily cross this line, resulting in serious harm, and even death. When a security guard’s use of excessive force results in injury, it may be considered an “intentional tort.” An intentional tort is a civil – not criminal – act that is committed on purpose, rather than from negligence. In some cases, security guards and bouncers can be charged with assault and battery. False imprisonment is another common charge in cases involving guards and bouncers who misuse their authority. Unlawfully detaining a guest or patron for an extended period of time can result in a charge of false imprisonment or false arrest.  Continue reading

For many New Englanders, nothing beats the first warm days of spring, when we clean off our porches and decks, and bring out the grill and patio furniture. Porches, decks, and balconies provide extra space for outdoor entertaining and relaxing. But worn, improperly-designed, or dangerous decks can collapse, leading to broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic head injures. When decks are especially high, collapses and falls can be fatal. If you have been injured in a porch or deck collapse, who is responsible?

Property owners or managers have a duty to ensure that porches and decks are well-maintained, inspected regularly, and structurally sound. If an inspection reveals problems, it is the property owner or manager’s responsibility to make sure that necessary repairs are completed in a timely manner. If you were injured due to a poorly-maintained porch or deck, a MA personal injury lawyer can help you determine if you have a successful injury claim.

When is a Property Owner or Manager Not Liable?

In certain circumstances, the owner or property manager may not be at fault if a porch or deck collapses and injures another. Some of these special circumstances are included below:

  • The injured person knew about the dangerous condition before the injury occurred.
  • The dangerous condition was obvious and the injured person should have seen it.
  • The owner or property manager had no way of knowing that the dangerous condition existed.
  • The injured person created the dangerous condition through his or her misuse of the premises.

Let’s consider the following scenario. You rent a Boston apartment, and the property owner lives in Florida. When you signed the lease, the deck was in perfect shape. Last month, a tree fell on the deck during a storm, causing severe damage. You noticed the damage, but failed to report it to your landlord. Last night, you walked onto the deck to smoke a cigarette, and the damaged portion of the deck collapsed. In this situation, filing a personal injury claim against your landlord for negligence will not likely result in compensation. If, on the other hand, you contacted your landlord immediately to report the damage, but he or she never responded (despite multiple phone calls and emails), you may be able to recover damages for injuries suffered. A Boston injury lawyer can hep you determine how to move forward. Continue reading

The Angry Bull Saloon, a bar in Hartford, Conn., will not reopen following a tragic incident that occurred on March 3 involving a teenager who fell from the roof level of the building that housed the bar.

An investigation by police concluded that the death of an 18-year-old female was an accident, but the police also believe that the teenager was at the bar before she fell four stories to her death. Toxicology reports have yet to be released, so it is unknown whether or not the teenager was intoxicated at the time of her fall.

The Angry Bull agreed to turn in its liquor license and close its doors during the investigation, and has now officially decided to close indefinitely because the city of Hartford would have imposed costly new security measures as an ultimatum to reopen. As requested by the chief of police, the bar would have had to have paid the city for police details on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, a cost of about $584 a night.

Police reported that the teenager was able to gain access to the bar with a “very good” fake ID, and that she still had a wrist band from the bar on her wrist when she accidentally fell from the fourth-floor of the building. Police said she was able to get onto the roof by simply walking up a set of outdoor stairs and then climbing a ladder up to the roof. It is believed she was alone at the time of the incident.

The Angry Bull had already caught the attention of Hartford police before the tragic incident, as they had been the subject of three referrals to the Liquor Control Commission since November; including two for allegedly allowing underage drinking.

One of these referrals was closed without any action taken, and the other remained under open investigation. According to the Courant, state and local police were in the midst of planning an undercover operation at the bar at the time of the accident.

Many responsible for this tragedy

Although you should never climb to the roof of an unfamiliar building without any supervision or proper safety precautions (and especially not if you have been drinking any amount), it should not have been so easy for a teenager to gain access to a roof that is four stories high. It should not have been possible for an underage person to gain access to a bar, no matter how convincing her fake identification was.

While the bar has done the right thing in closing down their business following such a horrific event, they are still not out of the woods when it comes to liability for the death of the teenager. If it turns out that she was intoxicated at the time of the accident, the owner and bartenders who served the young woman will be in significantly more trouble.

Likewise, the owner of the building that housed the bar would be liable for the tragedy as well, since they did not prevent access from the foreseeable and dangerous situation of somebody gaining access to the roof. Both the owner of the bar and the owner of the building may eventually be taken to court due to their negligence that helped contribute to a death.

Ensuring that your place of business, and ensuring that any property you own, doesn’t become a hazard to those that patronize it is a fundamental responsibility of the individuals that own these properties. Continue reading

You’re the parent of a Massachusetts high school student and have done a tremendous job so far of encouraging your child to always be honest and always ask you questions, even the ones that make you uncomfortable. One day, you get a question you never truly expected to get: “Mom, dad, I want to invite over a few friends. They were going to drink, so I thought it would be safer for us to do it here. Is that okay?”  You know that your child is a good kid, and you know that teenagers will probably find a place to drink anyways, so you agree. After all, you’ll supervise the party and make sure that nothing goes wrong, right? By 2:00 a.m., the party has died down and mostly all of the teens are asleep. You feel like the coolest parent on the block and you finally allow yourself to go to bed.

In the morning you are jolted awake by a call from the police. One of your child’s intoxicated friends snuck out shortly after you dozed off and got into a severe car accident with another motorist. The child survived but the other driver was injured. Not only was your decision to host an underage drinking party illegal, you are also now completely liable for both the injured teenager and any action taken by the driver’s family.

Providing alcohol or a place to drink for anyone under 21 is illegal

Massachusetts has strong laws on the books about “furnishing” alcohol to any individual under the age of 21. To furnish means to knowingly and intentionally supply, give, or allow the possession of alcohol to those under 21. If found guilty perpetrators can face up to a $2,000 fine and up to a year in prison, not to mention the thousands, or potentially millions, of dollars in civil suits that could follow.  Adults will be liable for any individual who gets drunk on their property – even if it’s a rented hotel room – and proceeds to cause damage or harm to any property or other individual. Homeowners insurance likely won’t cover these costs, especially if the intoxicated, underage individual causes damage or harm after getting behind the wheel of a car.

While parents might think that they are being cool and responsible by keeping a close eye on the activity, underage drinking is still underage drinking. The better approach is to always talk with your child about the dangers of underage drinking and what the consequences of such actions could be. While you can’t control every action your child makes, you can always control what goes on in your own home. Continue reading

You’re the parent of a high school student and have done a tremendous job so far of encouraging your child to always be honest and always ask you questions, even the ones that make you uncomfortable. One day, you get a question you never truly expected to get: “Mom, dad, I want to invite over a few friends. They were going to drink, so I thought it would be safer for us to do it here. Is that okay?”  You know that your child is a good kid, and you know that teenagers will probably find a place to drink anyways, so you agree. After all, you’ll supervise the party and make sure that nothing goes wrong, right? By 2:00 a.m., the party has died down and mostly all of the teens are asleep. You feel like the coolest parent on the block and you finally allow yourself to go to bed.

In the morning you are jolted awake by a call from the police. One of your child’s intoxicated friends snuck out shortly after you dozed off and got into a severe car accident with another motorist. The child survived but the other driver was killed. Not only was your decision to host an underage drinking party illegal, you are also now completely liable for both the injured teenager and any action taken by the deceased driver’s family.

Providing alcohol or a place to drink for anyone under 21 is illegal

Massachusetts has strong laws on the books about “furnishing” alcohol to any individual under the age of 21. To furnish means to knowingly and intentionally supply, give, or allow the possession of alcohol to those under 21. If found guilty perpetrators can face up to a $2,000 fine and up to a year in prison, not to mention the thousands, or potentially millions, of dollars in civil suits that could follow.  Adults will be liable for any individual who gets drunk on their property – even if it’s a rented hotel room – and proceeds to cause damage or harm to any property or other individual. Homeowners insurance likely won’t cover these costs, especially if the intoxicated, underage individual causes damage or harm after getting behind the wheel of a car.

While parents might think that they are being cool and responsible by keeping a close eye on the activity, underage drinking is still underage drinking. The better approach is to always talk with your child about the dangers of underage drinking and what the consequences of such actions could be. While you can’t control every action your child makes, you can always control what goes on in your own home. Continue reading

A dram shop is an American legal term that refers to a bar or vendor of alcoholic beverages, named after certain institutions in 18th Century England where alcohol was served by the spoonful, also called a dram.  Dram shop liability involves the series of laws regarding the liability of alcohol vendors such as bars, taverns, liquor stores, restaurants, nightclubs, country clubs, athletic and sports venues, and fraternity organizations.  Under dram shop liability laws, such establishments can usually be held liable in cases where visibly intoxicated individuals or minors are served alcohol and subsequently, these individuals cause serious injury or death to a third party.  The particular liability laws vary depending on the state.  It may seem unfair that bars can be held accountable for accidents and injuries caused by a customer at their business, but the law requires you to be aware of over-consumption of alcohol by your patrons if you own a bar.  Most states also require your staff be trained to recognize over-consumption as well.  It is possible that if one of your patrons injures or kills someone else due to intoxication after visiting your establishment, you can be found just as liable as the patron.  In certain states, continuing to serve alcohol to a customer who is visibly intoxicated can result in criminal charges.

Some states allow injured people to sue alcohol vendors for damages through a civil claim under dram shop laws, but Massachusetts does not.  The state does have several laws in place that restrict the irresponsible sale of alcohol.  Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 138, Section 69 prohibits vendors from giving alcohol to an “intoxicated person”.  This requires waiters and bartenders to take note of the typical symptoms of alcohol intoxication such as slurred speech, slowed or delayed reaction time, aggression and other common symptoms.  In past cases, vendors who violate this law have been found negligent following a civil lawsuit.  In order to successfully prove a vendor liable in such a case, the injured person must prove the patron was visibly intoxicated while the vendor continued to serve him or her alcohol.  The injured person can only file a personal injury claim in this context, meaning against a vendor of alcohol.  An injured person would not be able to file a personal injury claim against a social host who provided alcohol to guests after they were visibly intoxicated.  Social hosts can face criminal charges, however, if he or she provides alcohol to a minor under the legal drinking age while on the host’s property.  Continue reading

Several people were injured on Tuesday when a temporary construction wall collapsed in the Boston suburb of Malden. The collapse, which occurred in front of a Japanese restaurant on Pleasant Street, trapped 5 people before dozens of witnesses lifted the wall, freeing the victims. A mother, her husband, and their toddler were among the victims. The mother received non-life threatening injuries. Fortunately, her son was not seriously hurt. Contact a Boston Injury Lawyer Today.

According to Malden police Capt. Glenn Cronin, the collapse was likely due to a strong gust of wind. Deepti and Sudhir Soni were trapped under the fallen wall with their 2-year-old son. The mother was taken to the hospital immediately following the incident. Sudhir Soni reported that his wife was diagnosed with a C1 spinal cord fracture. She will need to wear a collar until the injury heals. The family was walking on the Pleasant Street sidewalk when the plywood barrier collapsed. According to witnesses, the toddler’s stroller frame protected him from serious injury.

“I Wouldn’t Wish It On Anybody”

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is currently assisting local authorities with the investigation. In addition to the family of three, two other women, Albertina Pierre and Maureen Finn, were also injured. Pierre’s son said his mother was crying. “She was like ‘Isaiah I could have died,’” he said. Finn also recounted the traumatic experience. “It was so heavy it was unbelievable, I wouldn’t wish it on anybody,” she said. “I had walked by it several times, I thought it would be light, but it just crushed all of us.” Paul Frazer, who was in a nearby jewelry store, was one of many witnesses who rushed out to help when the wall collapsed. “We didn’t know what happened so we just kind of ran out there and we saw some people underneath, we heard a baby crying, just tried to lift it up and get the people out from underneath,” he said.

You Just Never Know

Fortunately, nobody suffered life-threatening injuries in Tuesday’s incident. However, it serves as a good reminder that ‘freak accidents’ can happen at any time, in any place. Living in the city, most of us walk past temporary construction walls and scaffolding multiple times each day. While the vast majority of these structures are sound, exceptions do exist. In fact, a similar incident occurred last week when construction staging collapsed in the North End, injuring a worker. Always use caution when walking beside, or under, these types of temporary structures. Unfortunately, when they do fall or collapse, injuries are common and can be serious or even fatal. This year, multiple scaffolding and staging collapses resulted in fatalities in New York City, Houston, and Raleigh, N.C. Continue reading

As children settle into the new school year, school playgrounds are once again being put to the test. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that an estimated 200,000 children under the age of fifteen visit emergency rooms for playground injuries every year. The most common reasons for the high number of playground-related injuries are improper maintenance, faulty equipment, and lack of proper supervision. Depending on the individual circumstances of a particular case, fault may lie with either the property owner or the manufacturing company responsible for the design of the playground equipment.

Lack of Proper Playground Equipment Maintenance

Schools are responsible for keeping playground equipment properly maintained, conducting regular safety inspections, and staying in compliance with regulations. With consistent daily use, school equipment in particular is highly susceptible to wear and tear. Rust from exposure to the elements can cause screws and bolts to loosen. Slowly rotting wooden floorboards on climbing equipment can break during use if not checked regularly. Nails and other sharp edges may begin to protrude over time, resulting in safety issues. Daily maintenance by staff should include assessing the safety of slippery surfaces and checking for potential hazards, including those mentioned above. If a child is injured because of any type of preventable hazard on school property, the school may be found negligent.

Dangerous Design and Construction of Playground Equipment

As with all types of product liability, one aspect of fault may lie with the design of the equipment. School districts generally hire a construction company to build playgrounds designed, or supervised by, a specific design company. If either party has overlooked safety issues that ultimately result in an injury, one or both parties may be held liable for damages. Examples of faulty design include a climbing structure without a regulated railing to prevent a child from falling and breaking a limb. Additionally, playgrounds should have specific surfaces with higher levels of shock absorption. If a child is hurt due to lower quality surfaces, there may be a case for product liability. The Consumer Products Safety Commission provides safe design standards for playground equipment. Continue reading

A woman who suffered a horrific rape in a hotel parking garage in 2009 has been awarded a multi-million dollar verdict from the jury hearing her case. Kira Wahlstrom, who was brutally assaulted in a Boston based Radisson hotel parking garage, had pressed charges against the owners of the hotel and the garage for what happened to her. The jury found that the company that owned the hotel at the time of the attack, JPA, was negligent—and in their negligence they contributed to this assault taking place.

The attack on Kira Wahlstrom occurred shortly after she exited an elevator on her way to her vehicle after work. The man riding the elevator with Ms. Wahlstrom grabbed her by the neck and head and proceeded to drag her into a stairwell where he violently raped her for over 25 minutes. Kira Wahlstrom screamed for help—but no one came to her aid. According to new reports, two security guards were in the lobby of the hotel at the time of the incident but neither of the guards responded to her cries. It was not made immediately clear if they had heard the attack at the time.

Just 12 days prior to the attack Wahlstrom faced, another woman was raped by the same suspect at the same garage. The unidentified woman was an employee for the hotel at the time of the assault. Kira Wahlstrom feels as though it were the duty of the hotel management as well as the management for the parking garage to inform the public about the attack that took place so individuals may be able to protect themselves accordingly. “It could have been prevented,” Wahlstrom has said about her assault. The jury for the case similarly concluded that the owners of the garage were responsible for informing others of the initial attack in order to protect others from suffering the same fate. Continue reading