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In my previous post on this case, I discussed the tragic murders of Dr. Richard Field and Dr. Lina Bolaños, who were murdered in their multimillion dollar condominium, in the luxury Macallen Building, in South Boston on May 5 2017. This upscale building reportedly advertised 24-hour concierge and security services.

This tragic event raises a legal subject that not many people know about – a category of liability cases called “Negligent Security Lawsuits.”  These types of lawsuits are a sub-specialty of a broader area of law known as Premises Liability, and in sum they are brought when a person has been attacked or injured by a third party at or in a property when the property owner has not provided adequate security to protect persons lawfully at or on that property. (Common examples include (office buildings, commercial properties or parking lots.)   The families of Dr. Field and Dr. Bolanos have filed a lawsuit in Suffolk Superior Court alleging that the building’s owners, managers and the security company that they hired did not provide adequate security that could have prevented this tragedy.

As you might suspect, the key in the preceding sentence is “adequate security” – and what this term does – and more often, doesn’t consist of.  Because most property and building owners would have the public believe that placing someone who is wearing a security uniform is “adequate” security, and it isn’t.  In fact, it’s almost always a charade; a false image, and essentially a misrepresentation, to the persons lawfully in or on that property, designed to create the appearance of safety and security, when in fact this is not being provided.  What allegedly happened to this promising young couple, may well illustrate this point:  The alleged murderer, a previously convicted bank thief by the name of Bampumim Teixeira, was able to get inside the building, then gain access to the 11th floor where the doctors’ condo was located.  Teixeira  reportedly overpowered the Dr. Field and Dr. Bolanos with a knife, then held them hostage while ransacking the condo for money and valuables.  The two doctors were then murdered – their throats slashed.

As a Massachusetts negligence attorney, one of the areas of practice that I specialize in is called “Premises Liability.”  This is an area of tort practice that allows victims of injuries that were caused by inadequately and negligently maintained property – usually (but not always) commercial buildings and commercial property.  The types of cases that can fall under “premises liability” type of lawsuit can vary from slip and fall injuries, to cases where someone died due to inadequate security measures being taken.

Many people here in Boston are aware of the horrific double murder of two young, promising doctors this past May 5 2017.    A couple, their names were Dr. Richard Field and Dr. Lina Bolanos, and they were savagely murdered, allegedly by a man who previously worked as a “security guard” at the upscale building where their condominium was.  That individual, one “Bampumin Texeira,” has been arrested and arraigned for their murders, and is being held without bail pending trial.

There is a saying in the legal profession that “bad cases make good law,” and that maxim applies very well to this case.  The reason?  In my opinion as a Boston Massachusetts negligent security lawyer, this type of tragic story was bound to happen sooner or later. By “tragic story”, I’m referring not only to the murders of these two young doctors, but the façade that the private security industry operates under.  We all regularly go into buildings and various properties on a regular basis, where we see a “security guard” at the entrance.  These are employees of private security companies/guard companies, that wear “official-looking” uniforms, designed to create the appearance and resulting feeling of some kind of ‘police’ presence, or at the very least a highly-trained security professional, that knows how to spot danger, and knows how to react to it instantly.

The Involuntary Manslaughter conviction 6 weeks ago of Michelle Carter, in the texting-suicide death of Conrad Roy III, has generated international attention.  I’ve written previously in my Massachusetts criminal law blog about why I believe this conviction was sound and supported by both the law and the facts.  I’m writing this post today in my Massachusetts Injury Law blog, because a twist has developed in this, involving civil law, not criminal.

Yesterday, a Sentencing Hearing was held before the judge who found her guilty in June of Involuntary Manslaughter in this case, Massachusetts Juvenile Court judge Lawrence Moniz.   I joined host Aaron Keller at Dan Abrams’ LawNewz broadcast yesterday for over two hours of live analysis to examine and discuss Carter’s conviction in this case, and the sentence she received yesterday from Judge Moniz.  That criminal sentence was especially lenient, but did not surprise me.

Some background on sentencing issues, first. The relevant statute in Massachusetts provides for a maximum of 20 years’ incarceration upon a conviction of Involuntary Manslaughter.  The prosecution (Bristol County District Attorney’s Office) asked for a range of 7 to 12 years’ incarceration – in state prison.  Carter’s defense attorney asked the judge to impose no prison time at all, but instead only five years’ probation.  Absent a statute that imposes mandatory minimum sentences upon a conviction, which removes all discretion from a judge, the judge retains discretion in sentencing, between the minimum and the maximum.  Give that this case was in juvenile court, that range runs from no incarceration at all, to a maximum of 20 years in a state prison.

I’m going to comment on something tonight, but what occurred surrounding the events that I’m going to speak to in this post are so lacking in any common sense on any level, so thoroughly disproportionate to rational and reasoned thinking, and so tragic, that I wasn’t immediately sure if I should post it here in my Injury Law blog, or my Criminal Law blog.  The events in this incident strain belief, and the non-answers surrounding it, issued to today’s date by the Police Department involved, further strain credulity.

Full disclosure, before proceeding further:  I am basing my understanding of the events described below, on published reporting from The Boston Globe,  MSN and other media sources. (click on link for Boston Globe story published July 17 2017.) I have not yet had the opportunity to fact-check every description of this incident that follows.  However, based on the media accounts that I have reviewed, these reports are consistent with each other, and thus as of this date I have no reason to doubt their fundamental accuracy.  If, after publishing this post I learn of any errors within it, I will issue an appropriate correction in this blog (in a separate post) promptly.

A young man killed himself Saturday night, July 8, in the wealthy town of Hingham. His name was Austin Reeves.  He was 26 years old, and universally liked by all who knew him – employers, friends, schoolmates, and more.  Said one of his employers of him, “He was charming and funny and outgoing. He could talk to anyone, and everyone always enjoyed him.”   Austin had no history of either mental illness or violence of any kind. After finishing working for his employer at a 75th birthday party reception earlier that day and evening, Austin had a phone conversation with a former girlfriend, with whom his relationship had failed a month earlier.  Something was said  in that conversation that apparently hurt him a great deal.  During the conversation, Austin mentioned that he owned a gun.  Note:  No information to date indicates that Austin made any specific threat in that conversation.  However this former girlfriend became worried about him, and phoned the Hingham Police Department at approximately 9:19 PM, asking them to simply conduct a wellness check on Austin at his home – that is all.  The Hingham Police then called the Reeves household, where they spoke to Austin’s father, Russell Reeves, and asked Russell if Austin had a gun in his possession.

How does this picture look to you?  Pretty scary, huh?  Well, you’d be surprised how often I see these types of Massachusetts motor vehicle accidents, caused by distracted driving.  That’s code for “Using a smart phone when behind the wheel.”

Mass Pike rollover
Despite the gravity of this problem, some would say that this subject is a classic battle between civil libertarians vs. law-and-order types.  I prefer to call it Realists vs. Members of the Flat Earth Society.

Because, as a Massachusetts car accident attorney, it’s my opinion that one would have to believe the earth is flat, to conclude that the time is long past due to ban the use of all hand-held devices while driving any motor vehicle.  An anemic attempt to address this massive problem was enacted in 2010, banning drivers aged 16 and 17 from using the devices while driving – but not adults.   The assertion at that time that this was “really a youth problem” was pathetic, and driven largely by special interest groups that didn’t want to interfere with “adult use” of these accident-causing devices.  Predictably, that embarrassing excuse of an effective public safety statute did little to stem this deadly, and growing, problem.

OK – Here it is, July 2 2017 and people everywhere are celebrating the Fourth of July (in what will very likely turn out to be a very short work week this coming week – added bonus, no?) Yes, that means parades, cookouts and each outings.  I love this time of year; I’m a summer person.

But Fourth of July celebrations also mean something else:  Fireworks celebrations.  And while the vast majority of these fireworks displays are run by cities and towns under professional management, an enormous amount of the fireworks that you hear in any given neighborhood, are being lit off by individuals – usually young people.  As I write this post, I can hear the occasional firecracker now (or entire pack of them!)  Most people – especially young people – don’t appreciate the real danger of lighting off fireworks such as firecrackers, bottle rockets, ground spinners, ladyfingers, M-80’s, sparklers, and more. Continue reading

In my previous post on this subject, I discussed how a dedicated Boston anesthesiologist by the name of Amy Reed, a wife and mother of six, died due to uterine cancer spread by a medical device known as a power morcellator.  These new surgical devices were thought to offer a superior method over conventional surgery, in removing uterine and ovarian cysts.  The medical term for such procedures is laparoscopic uterine hysterectomy and myomectomy.

Tragically, power morcellation, as it came to be known, wasn’t a superior method to treat these conditions. Continue reading

A leaf from a beautiful tree fell to earth the other day.  It made not much sound as it broke from its branch, nor much noise as it struck the ground.  But if irony were sound instead of feeling, the noise would have been heard for thousands of miles.  For the life of a gifted young physician, a person who dedicated her life to helping enhance the quality of others’ lives, ended entirely needlessly with the death of that leaf.  And the irony that defined this loss, is that it was caused by a defective medical product; a product of her own profession.

Dr. Amy Reed’s last medical fight, waged on a broad scale to change how physicians treat the type of uterine cancer that she was being treated for, was won too late for her.  But not too late for others facing similar types of cancer. Continue reading

It isn’t unique to any particular city in this state, but Massachusetts bike-motor vehicle accidents tend to be highest in Boston.  No surprise there, given the population density of the state’s capital and the number of employers here.  It’s caused by an increasing number of people who live in communities near the city, that don’t want to drive cars to work.  I can’t say that I blame them:  The traffic jams and parking charges in Boston are both intolerable and unaffordable.  Recently, bike safety advocates have held rallies in Boston celebrating “National Ride Your Bike To Work Day,” (that wouldn’t be sponsored by bicycle manufacturers, would it?) complete with posters demanding “Safe Streets Now.”

Not a bad idea to ride a bike to work (assuming it’s not too far,) but with that alternative, comes unavoidable trouble:  Cars and bikes are going to collide, and when that happens, the injuries that can result are often pretty serious.  City leaders have tried to come up with “solutions” – such a bike-only lanes in traffic – but anyone who thinks such anemic approaches are going to solve this problem, are dreaming. So then, what is a more effective solution?  In my view as a Boston bike accident lawyer, as long as cars and bikes can weave in and out of the current scheme for “designated lanes”, collisions will always result.  Painting “Bikes Only” or “Vehicles Only” on the streets themselves, will not meaningfully reduce these accidents and injuries.  Let’s face it:  When you’re driving, are you staring down at the asphalt to see what markings might be there?  The honest answer is that most drivers don’t – so they could be in a lane that’s marked “Bikes Only,” and still hit a bicyclist.

The only real way that demarcating lanes for bikes only is going to work, would be to erect barriers between vehicular and bike lanes, so that a car or truck cannot cross over into a bikes-only lane, or make a turn into one either.  And doing something like this takes big money:  Think of the hundreds of miles of streets and roads this would have to be done on.

My previous post on this subject talked about how a lot of drivers end up driving around with too little of some very important types of auto insurance.  I ended the last pointing out that many drivers who have been injured in Massachusetts motor vehicle accidents can suffer not only devastating physical injuries, but suffer financial losses as well due to the “other driver” not carrying enough bodily injury insurance to pay for all of your damages.

This can happen in two principal scenarios:

  • The other driver who caused your injuries was driving illegally without any insurance, and has no assets you can attach to pay for your damages.

Or

  • The other driver does carry the compulsory minimum Bodily Injury To Others coverage of $20,00 per person/$40,000 per accident, but your (and/or your occupants) damages exceed that amount.

Continue reading

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