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By now, millions of people have learned about how, in seeming staccato fashion, dozens of homes in North Andover, Andover and South Lawrence Massachusetts literally blew up, one after another, yesterday (September 13.)  Fire, police, and disaster crews from across northeastern Massachusetts poured in to these communities in response.  As of right now, there has been one fatality reported – a young man – 18 year-old Leonel Rondon of Lawrence, was killed when a home on Chickering Road exploded, causing the chimney to collapse on a car that Rondon was in, inside the driveway of that home.  A photo of the boy is below.  Other fatalities may follow.

News helicopters observing from the sky have commented that these communities looked like they were bombed by enemy airplanes, strafing the region.  The word “Armageddon” has been used by more than one source to describe the devastation, which from accounts issued so far, would indeed replicate house after house, exploding one after the other, as if either on timers or bombed from above.   I hope to observe some of the damage myself, but rescue and safety crews will likely mean that aerial news footage will have to suffice, for now.

MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz stated that emergency crews have so far responded to somewhere between 60 and 80 fires, and multiple explosions within a brief time frame.

The Boston Globe published a story recently, that as a Boston construction worker injury lawyer, I find very illuminating about a fact that many people, in the midst of the current opioid epidemic don’t know. Which is: Nearly a quarter of the overdose deaths recorded in a five year time frame involved construction workers. That’s a lot, and it’s no surprise: Construction jobs involve a lot of physical stress, injuries are common, and the pressure to stay on the job even though pain can be severe, is very prevalent. The pressure to continue to stay on the job is due largely to two reasons: 1) Financial & economic pressure to continue working, and a social culture that highlights machismo, or a “tough guy” attitude. (Think about it: Did Arnold Schwarzenegger’s characters ever quit or take time off because he was hurt somehow? Or – for readers of a certain age – John Wayne? Didn’t happen. A construction site is usually male-dominated, and “wimps” usually aren’t welcome. Continue reading

Readers of both this blog and my Massachusetts criminal law blog, , know that I’ve written a great deal recently on the subject of the 3 deaths that resulted last month from a car crash in Cotuit Massachusetts, that followed a high-speed police car chase of a criminal defendant who was out on probation at the time. In fact, I wrote a 3-part post on that subject, which dealt with the criminal law aspects of that case and probation issues.

Today’s post here deals with potential civil liability of the Town of Mashpee Police Department, for engaging in a high-speed chase of that suspect, who according to police reports was driving at speeds of 100 MPH or faster. To its credit, the Mashpee Police Department issued a public statement just a couple of days ago, publicly acknowledging that the police should have broken off the high-speed chase in the interests of public safety. Readers will likely have two questions: 1) Can the Police Department here be held liable for the 3 deaths that resulted – one of whom was Kevin P. Quinn, a 32 year-old Afghanistan combat veteran who was killed by the speeding driver being pursued by Mashpee Police – even worse so – after he had just left the hospital where his wife had given birth to his and his wife’s newborn son? 2) Why would a police department call off a pursuit of a criminal suspect?

First, as to whether a municipal police department can be held civilly liable (i.e., ordered to pay monetary damages) for the injuries or death of someone caused by a high-speed chase by its officers, the answer is: Yes – depending on the specific circumstances involved. The legal test is one of negligence, and in order to determine if the police were negligent under the factual circumstances that were present, a number of factors will need to be weighed as evidence, including but not limited to:

In my previous post on this topic, I discussed what pressure sores, decubitus ulcers, or pressure ulcers (all the same thing) are, and why they develop. These types of rehabilitation facility and nursing home injuries fall into four basic categories:

Stage 1: This type is the least damaging. These sores only affect the upper layer of the skin. It may appear red or feel warm to the touch. If re-positioned, the sore may disappear within 2 or 3 days.

Stage 2: This occurs when the sore digs deeper beneath the surface of the skin. The skin is broken, leaving an open wound that may ooze pus or develop a blister. It’s painful. Again, re-positioning is critical, but the wound first needs to be cleaned with sterilized water or a salt-water solution and dressed with sterile gauze. Improvement should be seen within a week to ten days. Continue reading

One of the more frequent injuries we seen in our nursing home neglect clients, are pressure ulcers. While they are also clinically referred to as decubitus ulcers, plainly put, these are bedsores. They are injuries to the skin and underlying tissue, which result from prolonged pressure being placed on an isolated area on the skin. Bedsores and pressure sores/pressure ulcers most often develop on skin and underlying tissue that lies over bony areas of the body, such as the coccyx (tailbone), the buttocks, the hips, the outside surface of the knees, and the ankles.

These injuries to the body can be excruciatingly painful. Worse, because they are open wounds to the skin, they are incredibly convenient portal for infection – most often bacterial, but viral, also. Not only are they painful and dehumanizing, they are literally open doorways to sepsis and septic blood infections. Most of the reasons for this high danger, is due to the fact that most nursing homes and rehabilitation and hospitals are filled with bacteria and viruses. Why? These facilities are filled with sick people – and the sanitation conditions in these places are far, far from anything approaching “ideal”. Continue reading

I don’t know how many of my readers were aware of this at the time it happened, but five months ago, last February 2018, two Needham High School students were killed when two separate vehicle drivers hit both students as they were walking across Webster Street, in the town just next door to me here in Westwood. It was a stunning tragedy that took the lives of Talia Newfield, age 16, and Adrienne Garrido, age 17. Both were Juniors at Needham High School.

February 10, 2018 was a Saturday – not even a school day. The weather was uncomplicated, in fact rather warm for that day of the year (approximately 50 degrees). Yet, in a freak accident that still begs for comprehension, both friends were struck as pedestrians by two separate cars. Just a day ago, Norfolk County District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey’s office released news that the drivers of those two cars, Robert Berry, 65, of Needham, and Dania Antoine-Guiteau, 52, of Wellesley, have been indicted by a Norfolk County grand jury on criminal felony homicide charges: Mr. Berry was charged with motor vehicle homicide and two counts of aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. Ms. Antoine-Guiteau was indicted on charges of manslaughter and negligent motor vehicle homicide. Now, beyond the grieving families of these two young students, two more families will suffer even more grief, knowing that their family members have been criminally indicted on Massachusetts motor vehicle homicide charges. Continue reading

As I write this post, I am on Cape Cod, in the early hours of July 4 2018, having spent a glorious, happy day on the Cape Cod National Seashore. I am, with thousands of other people, celebrating our nation’s Independence Day. Everyone seems happy.

Yet, hidden among the pleasure, happiness and enjoyment that bring so many people to Cape Cod in summer, tragedy can occur . It happened most recently within a subject matter that I have blogged about previously: The subject of swimming pool accidents, and of how dangerous swimming pools actually are. In fact, while they are nowhere near as common as other types of accidents such as car accidents, truck accidents, or slip-and-fall accidents, Massachusetts swimming pool accidents are not exactly rare. Swimming pool injures are quite common, and when the reasons for this are examined, it’s not surprise why these types of injuries happen. Continue reading

The media has been doing a lot of broadcasting and publishing recently – very justifiably – on the subject of the Massachusetts Legislature’s shameful failure to act promptly in passing a revised distracted driving bill in this state. In the meantime, the lives of millions of drivers on the roads of Massachusetts remain at heightened risk due to people using their cell phones while behind the wheel. Distracted driving – whether talking on a phone, texting, or surfing through apps – is killing people every month that state government fails to crack down – as in, “Big Time.’

When is this Roadshow of Russian Roulette going to cease? Continue reading

The Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled earlier this week that colleges and universities can, under some circumstances, be held liable for the suicides of their students. While the plaintiffs who brought the suit – the parents of the student who committed suicide – ultimately did not prevail in this particular suit, they paved the way open for future liability on the part of schools, under certain conditions. While these courageous parents lost their case, this ruling is still a win for future such families, because a legal door has been opened now, which was never open before.

The case name is Nguyen vs. MIT, brought by the parents of Han Duy Nguyen. As an undergraduate at Stanford, Nguyen twice tried to kill himself. When he enrolled at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, he was visibly in distress, so much so that his own academic adviser believed he was extremely vulnerable. School officials offered him mental health counseling, but took no other special measures to assure his safety despite his extremely depressed state of mental health. On June 2, 2009, Nguyen, 25 years old, went to the sixth floor of a campus building and jumped to his death. Nguyen’s parents believed that MIT personnel knew about Nguyen’s vulnerable state, but failed to do enough to help him. They brought suit against the school and fought a valiant, seven-year effort to hold MIT liable for failure to act more responsibly surrounding Nguyen’s well-documented fight with depression. The legal theory of their case singed on the concept of “foreseeability,”which is a central element of tort law (generally speaking, the law of negligence.) Continue reading

I’ve blogged previously on the topic of the potential dangers of “energy” drinks. Still, seemingly every supermarket I shop in these days, I see these drinks proliferating left & right. Without doubt, these drinks and similar products can potentially injure you. Very high levels of caffeine can cause serious health problems such as cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat,) anxiety attacks, dangerously blood pressure and, in some cases, even sudden death. The obvious reason: They’re packed full of high-concentrated caffeine. High concentrate caffeine isn’t limited to energy drink products – it’s also marketed in powdered form, pills, and is widely available online. Hospital ER visits caused by high concentrate caffeine and energy drinks doubled over the past four years – from 10,000 to 20,000.

Aside from adults, an enormous number of teenagers and college kids consume the drug in these drinks. And yes, caffeine is a drug – and a highly addictive one, at that. Ever tried talking with someone who hasn’t had his/her morning fix? So, just how concentrated is this stuff? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reported that a single teaspoon of powdered caffeine is equal to the amount of caffeine contained in a stunning 28 cups of coffee: That’s approximately 1,600 milligrams of caffeine — equal to about 70 cans of Red Bull!  How much caffeine is safe? The FDA recommends a maximum daily limit of 400 milligrams of caffeine (about 5 8 oz. cups of coffee) to minimize safety risks.

So, can you sue if you’ve suffered physical or emotional harm from them? First, remember the maxim that anyone can file a suit over anything – that’s a constitutional right. The salient questions is, would you win? The answer to the last question, is “It depends”

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