Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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.

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

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.

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 wrote about how recovering damages for injuries suffered due to falls on Massachusetts municipal sidewalks, is legally very difficult.  In theory, if a person in Massachusetts is injured in a slip & fall accident due to snow or ice being on a sidewalk, that person can sue the municipality as the owner of the sidewalk – but only if the snow or ice was accompanied by some other defect that made the sidewalk dangerous (such as a gap in concrete or asphalt, etc.)

Even more so – and worse for persons injured due to falls on these sidewalks, whether the fall was caused by snow, ice, or other structural defects in the sidewalk, liability for any such injuries has always been capped at $5,000 per event.  This is courtesy of a special statute, M.G.L.  c. 84, §15, enacted several years ago.  Attempts to change this law have always been successfully opposed by the organization that represents the 351 city and towns in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Municipal Association.  Your tax dollars at work, huh? Continue reading

The world of civil liability law in Massachusetts, or tort law as attorneys call it, is changing.  And as with most change that takes place within society, there are opposing forces to change; one that supports the change; one that doesn’t.  If that doesn’t exactly excite you, if you’re a homeowner you might want to know that one such major change in the area of Massachusetts tort law that was seen in recent years, was the Supreme Judicial Court’s (SJC) ruling on the subject of whether or not homeowners could be held liable for slip & fall injuries occurring on their property due to snow and ice not being removed from the property in a timely fashion.  The legal upshot:  They can now.

Years of legal principle in Massachusetts had generally insulated homeowners from such liability, applying an arcane and often little-understood idea previously known as the “unnatural accumulation” principle.  This convoluted theory held that unless the offending snow and ice that caused the injuries in question was the result of “unnatural accumulation” – i.e., previous shoveling or plowing – then the homeowner was not liable.  As a Boston, Massachusetts slip and fall attorney, I can assure you:  This often confusing rationale usually resulted in unjust rulings and verdicts, and in fact discouraged homeowners from shoveling or removing snow & ice from their property.  That no longer results, as homeowners can now be held liable for injuries due to snow & ice on their property, regardless of how it ended up there.

Now, the subject of sidewalk liability is about to become the next area of legal review by the SJC – and people in this state may be in for quite a change in this area of liability law.  The obvious reason?  This is New England.  Slip and fall injuries taking place on municipal sidewalks that covered with either snow or ice are inevitable, and even though businesses could in rare circumstances face liability for such injuries, they usually don’t.  Resident property owners almost never do.  The reason for this is that at common law, a duty to remove snow or ice only existed if the defendant owned the sidewalk. Because neither businesses nor homeowners own public sidewalks, there is no duty to clear the snow and ice.  Thus, the legal responsibility for maintaining them has always fallen on the city or town, not the business owner that the sidewalk abuts, nor the homeowner that the sidewalk abuts.

In my previous post on this important topic, I noted how plaintiffs who suffered injuries due to slipping and falling at Massachusetts retail stores, usually had a tough time even getting their cases in front of a jury.  This was because store owners could often get the cases dismissed due to the high evidentiary standard that an injured plaintiff would have to meet, in order to prevent the case from being dismissed. Continue reading

Slip & fall accidents can be a lot more serious than many people think. No, scraped palms and knees don’t make up the bulk of the injuries that result from these events:  As a Boston slip & fall attorney, I can assure people:  Broken limbs, herniated spinal discs and concussions are most often the types of injuries that result from these events.  When people around age 70 or older are the victims, broken bones become even more common.  A good deal of my injury law practice involves representing these types of injury victims, and I’ve seen more serious injuries result from these types of events than I can discuss here.

So it was very positive news when a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) case was recently decided, which basically expanded the liability of retail business operators for slip and fall injuries.  This type of case falls under an area of law known as “Premises Liability.” (There’s an entire section on Premises Liability at our website, which you can get to by clicking on the “Website” tab, above.)  Explaining on a technical, legal level precisely why this decision expanded liability of retail stores for these types of injuries, would likely take a long time here and probably cause you to doze off. (I understand – for non-lawyers, these court decisions are pretty dry.)  But – very briefly – I’ll try to explain the legal reasons for this decision: Continue reading

Most people are aware that there are a high number of fatalities involving motor vehicle accidents and such, but I’ll bet that most aren’t aware of the number of people killed on the job in this state. The fact is, Massachusetts workplace fatalities happen more frequently than many think.

A report released jointly a few days ago by two labor groups – the Massachusetts AFL-CIO and the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupation Safety and Health, revealed that fifty (50) workers died due to injuries they suffered on the job last year in Massachusetts. Not surprisingly, transportation workers – taxi drivers, bus drivers and truck drivers, figured prominently in the Massachusetts employee deaths report. Equally unsurprising, but troubling still, were too many deaths caused by falls from heights, such as those involved in Massachusetts construction site injuries and Massachusetts scaffolding injuries.

As a Boston Massachusetts construction site accident lawyer, I’ve seen too many of these types of injuries – they can be horrific. Another fact that might surprise some people is that – yes, people are murdered in the workplace: Three Massachusetts workplace homicides took place in 2014, in just the first three months of 2015, another three took place.

So many people love the Fall season. I’m just not one of them. For many people, it’s a time for apple-picking, football games, Halloween and clean, crisp air. For me, it’s a time for longing the warm summer air and beach days that have left us. It’s also the season for leaf-peeping, which here in Massachusetts, people do in droves.

But did you know that autumn leaves, while beautiful, can pose a threat and can precipitate a Massachusetts slip and fall injury? “Fall” is the operative word here. Think about it: Dew falls during the nights and mornings, and it rests on leaves that have fallen everywhere. Aside from dew, rain also can pour down on leaves. The result? Moist leaves that are as slippery as a banana peel – or a sheet of ice, in winter. People certainly know how dangerous snow and ice are, but are probably not as familiar with how dangerous wet leaves can be. A Massachusetts slip and fall injury caused by simply wet leaves can be very serious.

Wet leaves can pose a problem at private homes — especially on walking surfaces like driveways, stairs and porches. At public places and at businesses, wet leaves that are not raked away or that simply pile up can be very dangerous, at entrances and exits, and on stairwells. One false move, and you’re on the ground with a broken wrist, a twisted ankle, or far worse – and when and where you least expected it. If that happens, you will need a Boston slip and fall attorney.

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