City of Methuen Reaches $600,000 Massachusetts Wrongful Death Settlement with Family of Boy Crushed by 1,600 Pound Iron Gate

In Massachusetts, the family of Timothy DiLeo will receive $600,000 for his wrongful death from the city of Methuen. DiLeo died on Labor Day 2007 at Tenney Grammar School after a 1,600-pound iron gate fell on top of him. He was 11.

Two of DiLeos brothers and another boy were playing at the school when the gate fell on Timothy and his 8-year-old brother Andrew. Lifting the gate off the two boys required the strength of several men, including police officers and the boys’ father. Andrew, who survived the Massachusetts premises liability accident, sustained serious injuries. Brandon LaPorte, then 13, sustained minor leg injuries.

In September 2007, Essex County prosecutors ruled the tragic incident an accident and no criminal charges were filed. However, the city of Methuen has acknowledged liability for the Massachusetts wrongful death because it left the gate unhinged and unsecured in an area where children had access. The settlement figure is the maximum amount that the DiLeos can seek under Massachusetts law.

The city of Methuen is self-insured. This means that city councilors must approve the settlement and the “debt financing” that will go toward paying for it.

Boston Premises Liability
Any kind of unsafe condition on a Massachusetts property can be the basis for filing a Boston premises liability claim or a wrongful death lawsuit if someone gets hurt because the owner failed to and should have fixed or removed the hazardous condition on the premise.

Schools and other properties that kids frequent are responsible for making sure that any hazards on the premise are kept away from the children, who are not as astute as adults when it comes to knowing when they may be endangering themselves by playing too close to a faulty wire, climbing onto a high pile of boxes, or playing with defective tools or on top of dangerous machinery.

Family of child killed by falling gate settles lawsuit, Boston Herald, May 13, 2009
Methuen to pay $600K for iron gate death, The Eagle-Tribune, May 13, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Death of 11-Year Old Massachusetts Boy at a Methuen School in Gate Collapse Ruled Accidental,, September 4, 2007
Premises Liability Overview, Justia
City of Methuen, Massachusetts

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