Articles Posted in Personal Injury Litigation

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 wrote in this blog recently of the many suits filed in the past few years against Johnson & Johnson alleging that its famous baby powder products cause cancer in women. That fight remains ongoing. But J&J’s legal woes over its products aren’t in any way limited to over-the-counter consumer goods like talc or baby powder. Many of the lawsuits it has faced involve its prescription drugs.

One of those drugs is Levaquin, which was developed by J&J as a type of antibiotic. Levaquin belongs to the fluoroquinolone class of antibiotics, and was marketed by J&J to treat relatively minor infections, such as sinus infections and urinary tract infections (UTI’s.) Sounds admirable enough, except that plaintiffs’ suits in several states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, allege that the giant health and pharmaceutical company very aggressively marketed Levaquin, while knowing that the antibiotic could cause a dangerous medical condition called peripheral neuropathy – a very serious nerve disorder. Often times, this dangerous disorder can become permanent – resulting in loss of nerve sensation and partial paralysis. Many of these suits allege not only that Levaquin is a defective medical product, but that J&J knew about this while it was marketing the drug to doctors, and intentionally failed to warn doctors about the risks of neuropathy to their patients. Continue reading

Many people have heard of the term “Statute of Limitations,” but they aren’t quite sure what this is, or how it might affect them if they’ve been injured in some kind of accident in Massachusetts. This post will hopefully clear up some of these questions for you.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

First, the point of a statute-of-limitations is to set a time limit, or deadline, within which a lawsuit to recover for damages must be brought (for any type of case, negligence & personal injury or otherwise). This purpose of the statute is not to prevent a lawsuit, but place a reasonable period of time within which either a formal lawsuit or some other kind of legal claim for injuries must be brought – if a case is going to be brought forward at all. In personal injury and accident cases, the person who commences the legal claim is called the plaintiff; the person or party against whom the claim is brought is called the defendant. It is important to note that the term “defendant” in civil cases means something very different than in a criminal case – a defendant in a criminal case has been charged with a crime against the state, and if found guilty can be imprisoned. In a civil case, a defendant is usually being sued for some type of monetary (financial) damages.

I’m going to weigh in here on the subject of sports and the subject of sports-related brain injuries, specifically chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE.)   CTE is caused by repeated and violent blows/impacts to the head, such as occur in boxing, football, rugby and hockey, and has become much more understood in recent years. A variety of psychological, neurological and behavioral symptoms result, which I’ll discuss at more length, below.

I think it important that this subject be addressed legally, especially in light of the $20 million lawsuit that the family of former New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez has filed against the New England Patriots and the NFL. Hernandez’ family is basing their claim on the fact that an autopsy of Hernandez’ brain showed that he suffered from CTE   Hernandez, as we all know, killed himself in prison after being convicted of the murder of another former NFL player, Odin Lloyd, in June of 2013. Continue reading

Something happened recently on Beacon Hill, and while it didn’t receive a great deal of buzz or media fanfare, it will substantially level the playing field for plaintiffs in Massachusetts injury suits. Governor Deval Patrick earlier this month signed legislation that will give attorneys the ability to question potential jurors in Massachusetts Superior Court cases. Surprised that this wasn’t always the case? You’d have every reason to be. How has it been handled in the past? Read on.

First, a definition: The process of questioning potential jurors in a case, before a jury is finally selected and empaneled, is called “Voir Dire.” The process is intended to ‘weed out’ potential jurors who may be biased in one way or another. For ‘eons’ in Massachusetts, judges have retained the sole power to conduct voir dire questioning of potential jurors. While judges tended to pose questions that attorneys in the case provided to them, they were never obligated to ask any particular questions that an attorney wanted. Judges retained sole control over the process.

In trying to assess whether a potential juror was biased or otherwise unacceptable to serve, attorneys were limited to reviewing the answers provided in a one page questionnaire given to potential jurors. Stunningly, no verbal exchanges or discussions were allowed between attorneys and potential jurors! Exactly how was an attorney to make an accurate assessment of a potential juror, without engaging in a direct, brief discussion about that juror’s views of the type of case they might serve on? For the plaintiffs’ attorneys involved, the whole process of juror selection was based on speculation and guess work. Care to know just how archaic and outdated this jury selection system in Massachusetts really was? 39 other states – including all of the other New England states – allow attorney-conducted voir dire (make that ten states, now.)

Contact Information