Articles Posted in Premises Liability

In 2016, a 62-year-old man was seriously injured in a New York Costco store when a steel rod fell, striking him in the head. Peter Aurigemma Jr. has filed a lawsuit against the bulk retailer, alleging that he suffered damages due to dangerous and/or defective conditions.

According to the lawsuit, the victim was reaching for paper towels, which were located at least seven feet above floor level, when the steel pipe fell and struck him. Following the accident, Aurigemma Jr. suffered serious medical complications, including a concussion, loss of dexterity in his left hand, damage to the nerves and muscles surrounding his left eye, migraines, noise and light sensitivities, lapses in short-term memory, and even behavioral changes. As a result of these injuries, Aurigemma Jr. is seeking compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost wages. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence.

Premises Liability

Under premises liability law, property owners are responsible for maintaining reasonably safe conditions on their property so that visitors aren’t harmed. The “status” of the visitor is important when determining liability. For example, trespassers have less rights than invitees. If you are injured while trespassing on store property after hours, your chances of winning a premises liability lawsuit are quite limited. In the Costco case above, however, the victim was not trespassing. In this particular scenario, he would be considered an invitee, or someone who is invited onto the property for a certain purpose, such as shopping. When a store is open to the public, the invitation is implied.

What if Both Parties are at Fault?

Although fault in Aurigemma Jr.’s case is yet to be determined, it is possible that both parties could be at fault. Maybe he grabbed a ladder marked “employees only” to reach the paper towels, possibly making him partially at fault. And maybe the placement of a steel rod on top of a roll of paper towels also makes Costco partially at fault. In MA, when both parties are at fault, a “comparative fault” system is used to reduce the victim’s legal damages by his/her percentage of fault. Therefore, if the victim is found to be 25 percent liable for the accident, his/her personal injury award will be reduced by 25 percent.

And this isn’t Costco’s “first rodeo” when it comes to premises liability lawsuits. The company was ordered to pay more than $400,000 to a slip-and-fall victim with a fractured ankle in 2017, and a New York woman who was hit by a shopping cart on a Costco escalator was awarded nearly $10 million in 2014. In this most recent lawsuit, Costco will have to prove that it took reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of customers. The allegation that paper towels—intended for customer use—were stacked more than seven feet high may have the greatest impact on the outcome of the case. Aurigemma’s lawyers will also likely question why a steel pipe was placed in close proximity to those paper towels. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fadil Delkic allegedly drove his car too close to a family in a Snellville, Georgia Walmart crosswalk. Troy Hunte and his girlfriend confronted Delkic, who remained in the vehicle and attempted to avoid an altercation (as evidenced by a surveillance video). Unfortunately, his attempts were in vain. Hunte shot and killed Delkic a few moments later. The victim’s widow, Bahra Delkic, has brought a wrongful death lawsuit against Walmart, claiming that the mega-retailer lacked adequate security.

“Given the history of violence in their parking lots,” the lawsuit claims, “and Wal-Mart’s [sic] knowledge they were not employing adequate security measures, it was foreseeable to Wal-Mart that the Plaintiff would be attacked in their parking lot and sustain serious injury or death.” A Boston wrongful death attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve lost a loved one due to the negligence of another.

Nothing New for Walmart

Walmart has experienced somewhat of a crime wave in recent years. Last year, law enforcement was called to the four Walmarts in Tulsa, OK nearly 2,000 times. While most of those calls are for shoplifting, there are plenty of more serious offenses, including five armed robberies so far in 2018, a murder suspect who shot himself in the parking lot in 2017, and a 2014 parking lot shootout that killed one and injured several others. In fact, more than 200 violent crimes have occurred at the country’s 4,500 Walmarts so far this year, including stabbings, shootings, murders, and attempted kidnappings.

What Happened?

Delkic was actually able to drive away from the initial confrontation and found a place to park. “Then, more or less, the fight was brought to him,” said Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter. Hunte’s girlfriend allegedly smacked Delkic across the face just before Hunte took out his gun and shot him in the chest.

Bahra Delkic’s lawsuit against Walmart also names Troy Hunte, who was shortly thereafter arrested and charged with murder. She is seeking compensation for “the full value of the life of Fadil Delkic, in an amount to be determined by the evidence.” A MA wrongful death lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve lost a loved one due to another’s negligence.

Is Walmart Doing Enough?

When Doug McMillon took over as Walmart CEO in 2014, he made crime reduction at Walmart stores nationwide a priority. As a result, the retailer allegedly maintains a detailed database of crimes occurring at their stores. According to reports from law enforcement in Port Ritchie, Florida, Walmart incidents comprise nearly 50 percent of all criminal offenses in that city. Even so, Walmart’s attorneys claim that the Delkic murder was an isolated incident and that Walmart had no way to know that the argument would escalate the way it did.

Is Walmart Liable?

In recent years, courts have become increasingly likely to hold retailers liable for parking lot crimes. Whether or not Walmart is liable in the Delkic case will come down to determining how foreseeable the murder of Fadil Delkic was. If this particular store has a history of crime, or is located in a high-crime area, Walmart is likely to be found liable. Continue reading

A two-year-old girl was killed in a tragic accident inside a Payless ShoeSource store last week. Ifrah Siddique was crushed when a large mirror fell as she was trying on shoes. The child was rushed to the Southern Regional Medical Center, but died from her injuries.

This tragedy calls into question the legal responsibilities of stores and other businesses, as well as the legal rights of those who are injured on their premises. Sadly, serious injuries and deaths in retail stores occur with relative frequency. Stores and other businesses open to the public often have heavy foot traffic, leading to an increased risk of something going wrong, eventually. Usually these incidents are minor, but not always.

Add frequent moving and re-arranging of displays and other heavy items to the inherent hazard of heavy foot traffic, and the risk of slip and fall accidents, traumatic brain injuries and death increases dramatically. Although minor accidents are sometimes difficult to predict – or prevent – serious injuries and fatal accidents should never occur. But they do. If you are injured due to a store’s negligence, a Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed.

Who is Liable?

Patrons of retail stores and other businesses open to the public have legal rights protecting them from harm. When a patron or guest is injured, property owners can be liable under the theory of premises liability. In many cases, the property owner and business owner are two different parties. Because there may be multiple parties involved, determining liability can be a complex process. The property owner may be entirely off the hook if the injury was a result of negligence on the part of the business itself, or its employees. In some situations, all three are liable. And if an outside vendor was involved, things can become even more complicated.

When negligence – whether on the part of the property owner, business owner, employees or outside vendor, or any combination thereof – results in a patrons death, the family may bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible parties. A MA wrongful death attorney can help you recover damages if you have lost a loved one due to another’s negligence.

Premises Liability in MA

If a property owner owes you a legal duty of care and breaches that duty, you may be able to recover compensation for any injury or damage that results. That being said, whether you are entitled to compensation – and the level of that compensation – will be dependent on multiple factors. Why you were on the property is one of the most important factors.

  • Customers and others invited onto a property for the purpose of doing business are classified as invitees under MA law. Invitees are owed the highest duty of care.
  • Under MA law, friends and others who are invited onto a property for the purpose of a casual visit are classified as licensees. The duty of care owed to them is intermediate.
  • Trespassers are, of course, owed the lowest duty of care.

Continue reading

If you are having a New Year’s Eve party to ring in 2018, there’s a good chance you’ll be serving alcohol. Although there’s nothing wrong with guests enjoying a few adult beverages, it may be your responsibility to ensure that they do so responsibly, and that they are of legal age.

Most people are well aware that the national drinking age is 21, but did you know that you can be liable if an underage guest drinks alcohol at your party? This is true even if you didn’t serve the guest, and even if you were unaware that a minor was drinking. Commercial establishments, such as pubs and restaurants, have an official “duty of care” to patrons who consume alcohol on the premises. In the case of a house party, that duty is transferred to the host of the party (a.k.a. the social host). A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a drunk driver.

As stated in the Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 138 Section 34:

Choosing the right daycare center for your child is one of the most important decisions you will make during their early years. You want them to have fun and be happy, but their safety and well-being is the primary concern. It is crucial that parents do their due diligence by researching facilities, performing their own inspections, and interviewing staff.

Tips for Choosing the Right Daycare Center

The tips below will help to ensure that you choose the right daycare center, the first time.

Since 2010, property owners in MA can be legally responsible for damages and injuries caused by a failure to remove snow and ice. The 2010 ruling replaced 125 years of legal precedent. Previously, owners were not liable for removing “natural accumulation” of snow and ice. But today’s landlords are legally obligated to treat snow and ice as a dangerous condition. Failing to do so could result in a personal injury lawsuit.

So, How Often Does a Landlord Have to Shovel Snow or Remove Ice?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this. In Boston, businesses have three hours and private residences have six hours to remove snow and ice. In Worcester, however, property owners have 12 hours. To be safe, snow and ice should be removed early and often. While it is not necessary to shovel every hour during an ongoing blizzard, doing so every few hours is a good idea. Once the snowfall has stopped, it is important for the property owner to ensure that snow is removed as quickly as possible.

If you are injured in a slip and fall accident in a store, should you file a personal injury claim? And if so, who should you file the claim against? The following article will help you determine if you have a successful slip and fall case, and how to proceed if you do.

Was the Store Negligent?

If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, step one is to determine if negligence played a role in your accident. Simply falling in a store doesn’t mean the store owners or managers are at fault. Tripping over your untied shoe laces, for example, wouldn’t justify a personal injury claim. But what if you slipped on a slippery substance that hadn’t been cleaned up? Well, it depends…

In the “slippery substance” scenario above, negligence may be a factor. Consider the following two scenarios:

  • Scenario A: A child grabs a glass bottle of iced tea from the store shelf and drops it, spilling iced tea all over the aisle floor. The mother notifies a store employee who immediately runs to the storage room to get a mop and a “Wet Floor” sign. In the moments before the store employee can get back to the spill, an elderly woman steps into the aisle and slips on the iced tea, breaking two ribs. No sooner has she slipped than the store employee returns with the mop and sign. He sees the woman on the ground and immediately calls for help.
  • Scenario B: A child grabs a glass bottle of iced tea from the store shelf and drops it, spilling iced tea all over the aisle floor. The mother notifies a store employee who says she’ll clean it up. But the store employee is on her cell phone, discussing plans for that night. Although she intends to clean up the spill, she forgets. The spill remains, untouched, for over an hour. An elderly woman steps into the aisle and slips on the iced tea, breaking two ribs.

In both scenarios above, the elderly woman may be able to file an injury claim based on negligence. However, proving negligence in scenario A may be difficult. In both scenarios, the woman slipped on a spilled substance that hadn’t been cleaned up. However, in scenario A, the store employee was doing everything in his power too quickly and effectively clean up the spill. In scenario B, the store employee prioritized a personal phone call over the safety of store customers. Continue reading

Parking lots and mechanical garages throughout Massachusetts often have automatic gates to control the flow of traffic coming and leaving. Unfortunately, equipment malfunctions can result in serious injuries to pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists who enter and exit through defective or poorly-maintained gates. When a person is struck in the head by the arm of an automatic parking gate, he may be seriously injured, or even killed. Possible injuries include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, lacerations to the face, and paralysis.

Who is Responsible?

Public and private office buildings, schools, shopping malls, hotels, and parking garages are responsible for maintaining a safe environment for visitors to their property. When someone is injured due to a malfunctioning parking gate arm, the victim may decide to file a personal injury claim against the responsible party. But who is responsible? Depending on the circumstances of the accident, multiple parties may be liable for parking lot gate injuries, including:

  • Property owners
  • Gate manufacturers
  • Parking lot or parking garage managers
  • Maintenance workers

A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence.

Determining Liability

Consider the following scenario: Linda is struck in the head by an automatic gate arm as she walks out of a hotel parking garage. Should she file an injury claim against the garage manager on duty that day? What about the hotel’s property owner?

Let’s say the hotel had just purchased an automatic gate last month. It was brand new at the time of purchase, was properly installed, and has been well maintained ever since. The garage manager on duty was properly trained on the gate’s use and was highly attentive on the day that Linda’s accident occurred. An investigation into the incident reveals a defect in the gate’s design.

In the case above, the property owner and garage manager upheld their duties to provide a safe environment. They were unaware of the design defect, and are not likely to be liable for Linda’s injuries. The manufacturer and / or designer of the gate, however, is another story entirely. If the design defect caused Linda’s injuries, the manufacturer is likely to be liable for any damages.

It’s all in the Details

But what if the details of Linda’s incident were slightly different? What if the injury was caused by a design defect but the property owner had been warned about the defect shortly after purchase? The property owner could have placed a warning sign next to the gate to warn of potential problems, or she could have replaced the gate with a different model. Instead, she chose to do nothing. In such a situation, the property owner will likely share at least some of the responsibility. In fact, she may be solely responsible, depending on various factors. For example, if the gate manufacturer had recalled the gate but the property owner had ignored the recall, the manufacturer may be off the hook entirely. A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

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

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