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William D. Kickham
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Like many attorneys, I’ve been getting a lot of calls recently from present and potential new accident and injury clients, who want to know how their cases are going to impacted by the quarantine and social distancing measures currently in effect in Massachusetts (as well as across the United States).  Potential new clients who have been recently injured due to someone else’s neglect also want to know if we can take on new cases.  I want all of our existing clients, as well as potential new clients, to know that we are providing uninterrupted legal services and communications during this time.  While most law offices and insurance companies have instructed all staff to work remotely, we can and we are still actively litigating and negotiating our cases.

Specifically:

While we’ve all been hearing about Coronavirus for the past two weeks or so, this past week has seen the most drastic and impacting of events surrounding this subject.  Seemingly, almost everything has been shut down around us: Important government offices & agencies, colleges & universities , grammar & high schools, sports games, businesses left & right. Uncertainty seems to be the order of the day, and unfortunately, it may continue to be this way for some time.

Regardless of this virus and the measures being taken to deal with it, people will still suffer accidents and injuries during this period of uncertainty. As a result, our office has been receiving a lot of calls from existing and potential new clients, wanting to know if they could still meet with me as their cases move forward, or if other legal problems suddenly develop. The answer is, yes.  No one here has tested positive for this virus, and so long as clients that need to meet with me also have not tested positive for this virus, I am happy to meet with you at your home, as my website advertises, and obviously also speak with you by phone. No one who is facing a serious legal problem or issue should delay speaking with or meeting with an attorney due to this present issue.

In addition, the Massachusetts Trial Court has issued Standing Orders that limit in-court appearances to emergency matters that cannot be heard through videoconferencing or teleconferencing and those notices can be found by clicking here.

As I’ve written about previously on both this blog and elsewhere, the Massachusetts Legislature finally woke up last fall and presented Gov. Charlie Baker with a bill with (supposedly) teeth in it to ban hand-held cell phone use in Massachusetts, and the Gov. signed it.  After 90 days from signing, the law went into effect on February 23 2020 with what I regard as a needless grace period for offenders until March 31 – i.e., drivers in Massachusetts caught using hand-held cell phones while operating a motor vehicle will only be issued warnings until March 31.  As of April 1, offenders will be fined according to a tiered structure (see below).  Given the fact that the law was passed and signed with much fanfare and media publicity several months ago, as a Boston car accident lawyer I thought that this grace period was a needless concession to cell phone carriers, but the chief components of the new law are worth re-capping here.

This new law provides different restrictions and legal impacts for drivers over the age of eighteen, and drivers under eighteen.

Drivers who are age 18 or over:

Here it is Thanksgiving Day 2019, and I thought I’d post these thoughts before sitting down for dinner.  Actually, I’ve made it a practice to contemplate on what I’m grateful for almost every day of the year that I can:  It’s a smart habit to form.

On a professional level, as a Massachusetts car accident attorney, I’m grateful that – finally – a ban on hand-held cell phone use while driving has been signed into law.  I’ve been publicly advocating for this for a few years now, and Gov. Charlie Baker finally signed the measure into law this past Monday.  Very briefly, the new law’s provisions:

  • Use of hand-held electronic devices while driving a motor vehicle – importantly, whether cell phones or otherwise – is banned beginning February 23, 2020. That’s 90 days after the law was signed by the governor, but the law provides a grace period through to March 31, 2020, which means that drivers who are cited for violation of the law prior to March 31, will receive a warning, not a fine.  As a Boston injuries attorney who has seen far too many preventable injuries caused by driver cell phone use, I thought that this additional grace period was unnecessary, and represented too much of a politics-based concession to the members of the Flat Earth Society who claimed that drivers would “need time to adjust”.  My immediate response:   Please.  No further comment needed.  At any rate, from April 1, 2020 forward, violators will be hit with fines, as discussed further below.  Aside from my observation above about the unnecessary ‘grace period’, inside each of the additional bullets below are my thoughts as an attorney who deals every day with accidents and injuries that are caused by Massachusetts distracted driving accidents.

In Part One of my post on this subject, I discussed what Roundup is, what the history of these cases is, how cases are being brought to the courts, and what the possible values of these cases might be for people who have been exposed to it and have developed Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (NHL) or similar types of cancer.  Let’s proceed to whether or not someone who has been exposed to Roundup and has been diagnosed with NHL, might have a legally actionable claim for damages.

How Do I Know If I or A Loved One Has a Case Against Roundup?

One big misunderstanding that all the TV and internet ads about Roundup litigation have created is the idea that anyone who has ever bought and used Roundup, and who now may “not feel good”, has a valid claim. Not true. Plaintiffs who present valid Roundup injury claims, are typically people who have had long-term exposure to Roundup, and later developed Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma or other cancers. Those types of plaintiffs typically are:

I’ve warned my clients, friends, and readers of this blog in previous posts several times, but I know that I can’t say it enough, so I’ll say it again in today’s post:  If you believe that your loved one in a Massachusetts nursing home, Massachusetts nursing care facility, Massachusetts long-term care facility or “Massachusetts Memory Care Center” (the newest term that the nursing home industry has developed to capitalize on the exploding elderly population suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia), is being neglected, mistreated, or abused in any way, you cannot rely on your reporting it to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) to come in and address the problem rapidly or effectively.  They are not the cavalry – they are not going to come and “save the day” any time soon.

The Massachusetts DPH is part of a massive state bureaucracy.  It is over-worked, under-staffed, and while many of those who work there are dedicated to their jobs and sincerely care about their responsibilities, many more aren’t so dedicated.  Trust me, as a Massachusetts nursing home neglect lawyer, I know.  I’ve seen many such a lazy DPH staffer, in the many years that I’ve handled Massachusetts nursing home neglect cases.  But the average person who isn’t familiar with these matters doesn’t know this (they wouldn’t be expected to.)  They mistakenly think, if they suspect that their loved one is being neglected or abused, that if they threaten the nursing facility that they will report the matter to the state DPH, the nursing facility will react in fear and leap into action to immediately and permanently correct the neglect or abuse.

If you’re in such a position right now, you’d be a fool to believe that such a result will occur.  The fact is, most Massachusetts nursing facilities are fully aware that it takes the DPH months to even begin to act on a complaint against a Massachusetts nursing home, Massachusetts rehabilitation center or nursing facility.  More so, they know that once the DPH does get around to acting on the complaint, the nursing home will have long eliminated any evidence of the reported neglect or abuse, and as a result, in many instances the nursing facility will not be punished by the DPH.  And I’m sorry to say this, but you’d be very foolish to think that the standard technique (read:  ruse) that 99.9% of these facilities employ to assuage complaining family members, will be in any real way effective.

A good number of my clients have called in to ask me about the Roundup cases that they’ve seen either on TV ads, or on the internet & social media.   It seems that anyone who has ever used this product has a lot of questions about it, so I’ll try to address them in the most accurate, efficient way that I can, given current case law and clinical information on this product.

First, what is Roundup?

Roundup is primarily a weed killer, an herbicide, and it has become the most widely used herbicide in the world. It’s used wherever weeds grow:  Lawns, farms, gardens, greenhouses, parks and more.  It is used commercially by professionals in the farming, landscaping and agricultural sectors, and by homeowners as well.  Monsanto makes Roundup, (though Bayer recently bought Monsanto), and this product earned more than $6 billion in revenue annually in recent years. More than 250 million pounds of it is used each year globally. The ingredient that many believe causes non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and other types of cancers is called glyphosate, and in 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) termed glyphosate a “probable human carcinogen”.

In Part One of this two-part post, I outlined how seven U.S. war veterans were killed, and three other individuals seriously injured, when a Massachusetts truck driver plowed into them while allegedly high on illegal drugs. Making this tragedy even worse was the fact that several other states had issued written warnings to Massachusetts Department of Transportation and Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles officials, that the truck driver responsible for these motor vehicle fatalities, had been previously arrested in several other states for drunk and drugged driving offenses. Upon receipt of this kind of notice, Massachusetts DOT and RMV officials were required to immediate suspend that truck driver’s Commercial Drivers license (CDL), but they didn’t. Why? An investigation revealed that thousands of similar such notices from out of state police departments and DMV’s had been – literally – stuffed into boxes in a storage facility in Quincy, un-acted on. The envelopes of these out of state arrest notices were never even opened by RMV staff.

Words are begged for an adequate description of this story. “Mismanagement” doesn’t describe it. “Incompetence” doesn’t come close. Additional media reports about this literally unbelievable story, have revealed that Massachusetts RMV officials knew that these out-of-state license suspension notices, sent in writing to the Massachusetts RMV, were stuffed into dozens and dozens of storage boxes – never acted on – and stored in a state facility. All the while, well over 1,000 dangerous Massachusetts drivers, whose Massachusetts licenses should have been suspended by the RMV, remained on the road, every day. Death and carnage just waiting to happen. As of today’s date, media reports indicate that almost 870 additional Massachusetts drivers have been identified by the RMV as drivers that should have previously had their licenses suspended due to various driving offenses, but never did. That pushes the total of recently suspended Massachusetts drivers licenses, to nearly 2,400. That level of negligence is outrageous. Continue reading

By now, almost everyone in Massachusetts, as well as people around the country, have learned of the operational disasters inside the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (“Massachusetts DOT” below) and Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (“Massachusetts RMV” below), which led to the simultaneous deaths of seven motorcyclists in June in New Hampshire in one horrific accident. Almost all of the victims of this tragedy were war veterans who had served overseas, when they were all struck by a truck driver whose Massachusetts driver’s license was not suspended as it should have been by Massachusetts DOT and Massachusetts RMV officials, due to multiple prior out of state driving violations that the RMV had been notified of, but never acted on. Aside from the seven persons killed in that crash, three other persons were very seriously injured. The truck driver who hit these people was not injured. When the accident occurred, that truck driver was on Route 2 in Randolph, New Hampshire, driving a black 2016 Dodge 2500 pickup truck towing an empty car carrier trailer, when he veered into the motorcyclists, members of the “Jarheads Motorcycle Club” (“Jarheads” is a term that is often used to refer to soldiers.) Continue reading

I’ve written about this topic before during summer, but it bears repeating, especially in view of some recent Massachusetts drowning accidents: Unless someone is an expert swimmer, swimming is & always has been a hazardous activity. Of course – who doesn’t want to dive in to a nice cool pool, pond or ocean when it’s summer and hot outside? That’s perfectly normal and natural. I don’t intend to be a “killjoy” here, but in my experience as a Massachusetts drowning accident lawyer, too few people – especially kids and even their parents – stop to think how dangerous this fun activity can really be.

One accidental gulp of water, one disorienting plunge underwater, one wrong-way fall into the water, and a swimmer can end up in real trouble, in a couple of seconds. Panic then ensues, and the swimmer can lose his or her clear thinking, and slip underneath the water. I’m sorry to be so direct, but the next stop can be brain damage from lack of oxygen. Just this past Monday, an 18-year-old lost his life while swimming at Upper Mystic Lake in Medford. According to the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office,(Note: District Attorneys’ offices always investigate accidental deaths as a matter of standard procedure) the young man – a recent immigrant from Nepal who graduated only days before from Medford High School – did not know how to swim. Like many kids, all he knew was that he was hot and wanted to jump in the water. He had planned to attend UMass Amherst in the fall; now he is dead.

And this wasn’t the only drowning tragedy this year in Massachusetts — in June, Clinton High School freshman drowned in a pond. Unfortunately, if statistics hold true, this won’t be the last time this happens this year. The USA Swimming Foundation conducted a study in 2017, which found that over 60 per cent of children are a drowning risk – because they have basically don’t know how to swim safely. (No, safe swimming isn’t just jumping into the water.) Low income areas can see higher rates of the problem: It’s been reported that almost percent of kids from low income families have no to very limited swimming skills.