Construction Accident - Neck Injury
This action arises out of a construction site accident on July 23, 2004 in Milton, MA. At that time, the plaintiff, a 44 year old resident of Middleton, was performing his job as the mason foreman at this construction project. The project consisted of the construction of a new high school, and involved the conversion of a former middle school into a new high school. The plaintiff's accident occurred while he was using a "fixed ladder" on the roof of the building that was used to gain access to different levels of the roof. The plaintiff asserted claims against the general contractor, the architect responsible for the design and the manufacturer of the ladder.
Prior to the accident the plaintiff had expressed to the general contractor foreman his belief that the safest means of accessing this particular work area was to erect scaffolding. The general contractor rejected the plaintiff's recommendation and he was instructed to use the aforementioned fixed roof ladder to gain access to the work area. During the course of his work as he climbed the ladder and neared its top, he lost his grip and fell onto the roof below, sustaining serious and permanent injuries.
The plaintiff first received medical treatment at the Lahey Clinic Medical Center, in Burlington, MA, where he received emergency care. Given his complaints of pain and sensory concerns related to his neck and shoulder, he was immediately placed in a hard collar, and a CT scan of his head, neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis, cervical and thoracic spine was carried out. The CT scan was interpreted to reveal a fracture of the lamina of T3 and disc herniation of C4 with impingement of the spinal canal. A MRI was then performed, and while it ruled out evidence of a fracture, swelling was noted in the area of the C4 herniation. He was discharged from Lahey Clinic, with instructions to continue to wear the hard collar, rest and follow-up with a neurosurgeon.
The neurosurgeon with whom the plaintiff treated determined that he had sustained spinal cord compression and root compression at C5-6 and C6-7 in his fall, and as a result was totally disabled. Plaintiff's physician opined that the flexion and extension of the head and neck that occurred when the employee fell severely impacted the spinal cord. He suggested that the employee undergo spinal cord decompression surgery of C4 through C7, given the marked compromise at C5-6. He also recommended decompression of the roots at C5-6 and C6-7. Despite his recommendation, the doctor admitted that there was no certainty that the surgery would correct the plaintiff's condition, and given the risks associated with the procedure, which included paralysis, as well as death, he resolved not to undergo surgery.
During the pendency of this litigation, counsel negotiated a settlement of the plaintiff's worker's compensation claim for $310,000.00, and the plaintiff secured Social Security Disability benefits of $2000.00 per month. Subsequent to mediation and lengthy post-mediation negotiations, the case settled for $750,000.00.
Worker's Compensation - Lumbar Radiculopathy
The employee, a 55 year old Quincy resident, worked as an elevator mechanic. On September 13, 2007 while picking up a tool bag weighing in excess of 75 pounds he experienced a pop in his back followed by the immediate onset of back pain and a burning sensation in his left thigh. He sought emergency medical attention and was diagnosed with a lumbar radiculopathy. He treated conservatively (medications and physical therapy). EMG testing confirmed the existence of L3 and L5-S1 radiculopathy. It was also determined that his accident had exacerbated his pre-existing degenerative disc disease. He was referred to a pain management specialist who prescribed medication and suggested injection therapy. The employee has declined this recommendation. He is not a surgical candidate.
The employee was paid Section 34 benefits on a pay without prejudice basis from September 13, 2007 until April 4, 2008 when the insurer terminated payments. This prompted the filing of a claim by counsel that resulted in the issuance of an order awarding the employee total disability benefits from April 5, 2008 through December 31, 2008, and partial disability benefits (at maximum rate) from January 1, 2009 through June 30, 2009. This lump sum settlement netted the employee his remaining total disability benefits (nearly two years) as well as almost two years of partial disability benefits at maximum partial rate.
Workers' Compensation - Repetitive Use Injury
The employee, a 54 year old Saugus resident was employed at a prominent Boston area college as a custodian, where his major job duties involved cleaning the large blackboards in the classrooms. In carrying out this task, he was required to use a squeegee to wash the blackboards. There was a good deal of overhead work involved in the performance of his duties. In addition, he disposed of trash, and cleaned floors as well as classrooms. On November 29, 2006, while cleaning a blackboard, he experienced a sharp pop in his left shoulder. He was initially diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as well as impingement related to the repetitive use of his arms over his head. After conservative measures failed, the employee underwent surgery, despite which he continued to complain of pain in his left arm. An EMG study confirmed carpal tunnel syndrome, for which he underwent another surgery (the college - self-insurer paid for this procedure and has accepted liability for this condition as well). While the surgery resulted in some improvement with regard to the employee's left hand, the pain in his shoulder was unrelenting, leading counsel to file a claim for a revisionary surgery of the shoulder. Said surgery was successful in greatly improving the employee's range of motion in his shoulder as well as a lessening of his pain. The settlement of $100,000.00 is equivalent to the remainder of the total disability benefits available to the employee, as well as nearly the entire partial disability benefits to which he was entitled (four years at the maximum rate). In addition, previously counsel had secured Social Security Disability benefits for the employee, and with the settlement, an increase in this benefit resulted.
Worker's Compensation - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
On February 19, 2008, the employee, a 49 year old South Boston resident who worked as a nurse manager at a long term health care facility, was attacked by a patient, resulting in injuries to her cervical and thoracic regions. In addition she complained of injuries to her hands and wrists, sustained when she attempted to defend herself. She received total disability benefits following the incident. She has treated conservatively for her physical injuries, but subsequently she also experienced anxiety, nightmares and fear stemming from the incident. She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder for which she has received psychiatric care. Counsel also asserted a claim of employer (based on the employee's allegation that the employer had ignored her request for more security on the floor where she was working). The settlement, equivalent to three years of future weekly benefits, greatly exceeded the total disability benefits available to the employee.
Slip and Fall - Knee Injury
$33,150.00 (plus interest of $7803.49)
On October 20, 2006, the plaintiff, a 68 year old Reading resident was customer at the defendant's supermarket in Woburn, Massachusetts. It had been raining in the area recently, and because of the rain the defendant placed carpets and sawdust at the entrance of the store to absorb water. As the Plaintiff was entering the store, she slipped and fell in wet sawdust on the floor, sustaining an injury to her right knee. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant, after intentionally placing the sawdust on the floor, failed to take any measures to monitor the conditions of the floor and adopted no specific plan to guard against customers slipping and falling on wet sawdust. Plaintiff alleged that as the wet sawdust was on the floor in question for an unreasonable length of time, the defendant was negligent in its maintenance of its premises. The plaintiff further asserted that the defendant's actions violated its own internal operation procedures, which held that the floors are to be free of debris or liquid which may cause anyone to lose their footing.
As a result of her fall, the plaintiff sustained a right knee non-displaced transverse patellar fracture. Her knee was placed in an immobilizer by her treating orthopedic physician, but the fracture was slow to heal. The Plaintiff incurred medical expenses of approximately $5,000, which included visits to the hospital, her orthopedic physician, and physical therapy.
The defendant denied negligence and liability for the plaintiff's alleged accident and injuries, asserting that it was raining heavily at the time, and the rain water on the floor was a transient condition. The defendant further maintained that its employees, prior to the accident, placed mats at the entrances, and wet floor signs to warn customers such as the plaintiff. The defendant argued that the plaintiff was also responsible for her fall given her inadequate footwear - she was wearing rubber beach sandals/flip flops. In addition defendant argued that the conditions were open and obvious to the plaintiff as evidenced by her deposition testimony that wet sawdust is slippery.
The defendant refused to extend a meaningful offer of settlement, and the case was tried in the Middlesex Superior Court with the jury returning a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The defendant did not appeal the decision of the jury.
Motor Vehicle Accident
The 35-year-old plaintiff, a resident of Revere, MA was a passenger in a motor vehicle operated by her husband on the Tobin Bridge in Boston. After proceeding through the tolls a low impact collision occurred between the plaintiff's vehicle and the defendant tractor-trailer truck as the plaintiff's vehicle attempted to merge into the truck's lane.
The plaintiff alleged that as a result of the collision she sustained an injury to her neck requiring a cervical fusion. The plaintiff's expert, an orthopedic surgeon at Boston Medical Center who performed the cervical fusion, testified the plaintiff's cervical spine instability necessitating the surgery was due to her motor vehicle accident.
The plaintiff also contended that as a result of her accident she was unable to return to work as a surgical technician. The defendant disputed the case arguing the plaintiff's husband was at fault for the accident, and further given the low impact nature of the collision, it disputed the causal relationship between the accident and the plaintiff's injuries.
The settlement was negotiated between plaintiff's counsel and defendant's insurer prior to trial.
Motor Vehicle Accident
The 44-year-old plaintiff, a Danvers, MA resident, was stopped in traffic on Hobart Street, a public way in Danvers, Massachusetts behind the defendant's sanitation disposal truck. While so stopped, the sanitation truck, without warning, backed up onto the hood of the plaintiff's vehicle before coming to a stop prior to striking her windshield. As a result of the collision, the back of the plaintiff's head struck the corner of her vehicle's headrest. In addition to asserting that the defendant's employee engaged in negligent operation of its vehicle, the plaintiff argued that the defendant was liable under a theory of negligent entrustment given its employee's poor driving record that plaintiff had discovered during the course of the litigation.
The plaintiff alleged as a result of the collision she sustained a "whiplash" injury to her cervical spine as well as headaches. She also experienced nightmares about the accident. She underwent a series of nerve block injections that eventually led to a quieting of her symptoms.
The defendant, a large sanitation disposal company disputed the extent and severity of the plaintiff's injuries and disability.
The case settled after mediation before trial.
Motor Vehicle Accident
The Plaintiff, a resident of Medford, Massachusetts was rear-ended by a commercial truck and suffered neck and back sprains, strains. Even though the Plaintiff missed no time from work we successfully settled the case at mediation in Boston, Massachusetts for $35,000.
Construction Site Injury/Workers' Compensation
$250,000.00 (lawsuit against general contractor)
$167,500.00 (workers' compensation settlement)
The 35-year-old plaintiff, a Gloucester resident, was employed as a mason at a construction site at Boston College, in Chestnut Hill, MA. While in the course of waterproofing a building by use of a high pressure spray gun which emitted heated synthetic latex, a hose carrying the synthetic latex burst, penetrating the plaintiff's right hand, and requiring immediate medical attention.
The plaintiff alleged that the hose that burst was extremely worn and in poor condition and that he had previously requested it to be replaced. As a result of the injection injury the plaintiff underwent multiple surgeries to remove the latex from his hand. The plaintiff's expert, an occupational medicine specialist maintained that as a result of the accident the plaintiff experienced chronic pain syndrome, hand tremors, scarring and post traumatic stress disorder. The plaintiff asserted he could not return to work as a mason.
With the efforts of counsel, the plaintiff was able to remain on full workers' compensation benefits until settling his claim with his employer's workers' compensation insurer. Counsel also obtained an award of monthly Social Security Disability benefits.
The defendant general contractor, a Boston, MA construction company, argued that it was not responsible for the plaintiff's accident as maintenance of the hose rested with the plaintiff's employer and that it had no notice of the condition of the hose. The defendant also disputed the extent of the plaintiff's injuries and disability.
The case settled after mediation, before trial.
The injured worker was an electrician on a construction site in Boston, Massachusetts. He tripped and fell on a premises defect suffering a torn rotator cuff requiring arthroscopic surgery. The injured worker received weekly total disability payments for a period of time and then we were able to settle the case with the workers' compensation insurer for $90,000.
The 50-year-old employee, a resident of Marblehead, MA was a clerical worker for an insurance company located in Beverly, MA. In May of 2001, she experienced a pull in her left ribcage radiating to the upper left portion of her back when she attempted to lift a group of files from a lateral file cabinet. She developed worsening symptoms that eventually led to her inability to work. It was discovered that the work incident had aggravated a previously dormant condition in her thoracic spine that necessitated surgical correction. The workers' compensation insurer argued that the employee had sustained nothing more than pulled ribs and disputed the claim, discontinuing the employee's benefits after less than two months.
With the efforts of counsel the employee was able to secure several years retroactive workers' compensation benefits and Social Security Disability benefits. After the trial which led to the award of weekly benefits, the employee settled her claim for the equivalent of eight years of future benefits.
The employee, a Westford, MA resident, was a building contractor in Billerica, MA who sustained two herniated discs in his low back when he fell down a stairway, a distance of about 10 feet, and landed on a concrete floor. He treated conservatively remaining on total disability worker's compensation benefits and Social Security Disability benefits for many years. The workers' compensation insurer contested the extent of the employee's disability and asserted he had an earning capacity. Nevertheless, counsel was able to negotiate a settlement equivalent to approximately 10 years of future weekly workers' compensation benefits.
In April of 2001, the then 51-year-old employee, a resident of Revere, MA worked for an airline company, and was required to handle baggage/luggage. On April 21, 2001 she sustained an injury to her low back when she attempted to lift a heavy piece of luggage. She was diagnosed as sustaining a herniated disc at L5-S1 for which she underwent surgery at New England Baptist Hospital in Boston. She returned to work, but due to her deteriorating condition, she underwent a fusion surgery in 2004 that led to her being disabled from employment again. A further procedure to stimulate fusion in her spine occurred in 2005. With approximately 1½ years of temporary total disability benefits available counsel was able to negotiate a settlement equivalent to more than 10 years of future weekly benefits. In addition, counsel successfully brought a claim to have the employee awarded Social Security Disability benefits.
In April of 2005, the then 58-year-old employee, a resident of Lynn, MA worked as a machine operator/printer for a manufacturer of corrugated boxes in Peabody, MA. He sustained a severe laceration at the base of his left thumb while attempting to replace a blade on a machine used to cut glue tabs.
The employee underwent surgery to repair a ruptured tendon. Despite surgery, he did not see a return of function of his left thumb, and did not resume employment. Counsel was securing a settlement equivalent to four years future temporary total disability benefits (he only had two years of such benefits remaining) as well as securing his placement on Social Security Disability benefits.
On July 23, 2004, the employee, a 45-year old resident of Middleton, MA was employed by a masonry contractor from Walpole, MA as a bricklayer foreman. The employee sustained serious injuries when he fell approximately 10-12 feet as he was attempting to climb from a lower roof level to a higher roof level at the Milton High School in Milton, MA, where he was working on a construction project on behalf of the masonry contractor. He was attempting to access the upper roof via a metal ladder permanently affixed to the building. As he climbed the ladder the Employee fell backwards onto the lower roof, with his back, right shoulder and cervical spine striking the roof surface with great force. Following this incident he experienced nausea, as well as pain in his back and neck, together with a "pins and needle" sensation in the cervical region.
The employee first received medical treatment at the Lahey Clinic Medical Center, in Burlington, MA, where he received emergency care. Given his complaints of pain and sensory concerns related to his neck and shoulder, he was immediately placed in a hard collar, and a CT scan of his head, neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis, cervical and thoracic spine was carried out. The CT scan was interpreted to reveal a fracture of the lamina of T3 and disc herniation of C4 with impingement of the spinal canal. A MRI was then performed, and while it ruled out evidence of a fracture, swelling was noted in the area of the C4 herniation. He was discharged from Lahey Clinic, with instructions to continue to wear the hard collar, rest and follow-up with a neurosurgeon.
The neurosurgeon determined that the employee sustained spinal cord compression and root compression at C5-6 and C6-7 in his fall, and as a result was totally disabled. He opined that the flexion and extension of the head and neck that occurred when the employee fell severely impacted the spinal cord. He suggested that the employee undergo spinal cord decompression surgery of C4 through C7, given the marked compromise at C5-6. He also recommended decompression of the roots at C5-6 and C6-7. Despite his recommendation, the doctor admitted that there was no certainty that the surgery would correct the Employee's condition, and given the risks associated with the procedure, which included paralysis, as well as death, the employee resolved not to undergo surgery.
The insurer initially discontinued the employee's weekly benefits because he chose not to have surgery. Counsel successfully brought a claim to reinstate the employee's compensation benefits, before eventually successfully negotiating a settlement before trial. At the time of settlement the employee had approximately one and a half years of future Section 34 benefits available. The proposed lump sum settlement represents seven years of future benefits at his present workers' compensation rate. Prior to settlement the employee was also awarded ongoing Social Security Disability benefits which presently exceed $2000.00 per month.
Trip and Fall
The claimant, a warehouse worker in his twenties, tripped and fell over a dog leash while leaving his parent's house in Lynn, Massachusetts. The claimant suffered a fractured ankle and missed several months of work. The homeowner's insurance company contested the claim on the grounds that the homeowner parents were not negligent and that the claimant son caused his own injuries by failing to watch where he was going. The case was settled before a lawsuit was filed for $150,000.
Premises Liability/Ice and Snow/Fall
The plaintiff, a resident of Mississippi, was a long distance truck driver making a delivery of materials to a company in Milford, Massachusetts. After making the delivery and parking his truck on the premises, he went into the building to make a telephone call. When returning to his truck the plaintiff fell on ice and snow in the parking lot sustaining a hip injury.
Claims were asserted against the building owner and the snow removal company. Both parties strongly contested liability for the accident. The case was settled at mediation resulting in a settlement of $140,000 for the plaintiff.
Premises Liability/Warehouse Accident
The plaintiff, a resident of Lynn, Massachusetts, was a truck driver making a delivery to a supermarket warehouse. The warehouse required the truck drivers to unload their own trucks utilizing electric pallet jacks. While the plaintiff was inside the warehouse making his delivery, an electric pallet jack being operated by another truck driver struck him, causing an injury to his knee.
A claim was brought against the warehouse and also against the operator of the other pallet jack. The case settled for a total settlement of $180,000
The Plaintiff as a married construction worker from Charlestown, Massachusetts who was killed while in the scope of his employment at a demolition site in Boston, Massachusetts. A large boulder fell from a truck and crushed the Plaintiff. Although the Defendant argued that the Plaintiff caused his own death by failing to observe the conditions, we were able to settle the case just before trial in Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston.
The 30-year-old plaintiff, at the time a resident of Boston slipped and fell while attempting to catch a subway train at the MBTA Central Square Station in Cambridge. She fell due to the presence of water on the station floor. Her prior counsel failed to sue the MBTA within the time allowed by the statute of limitations and her case against the MBTA was dismissed. The plaintiff asserted that her prior counsel, who practiced in Lawrence, MA was negligent for failing to timely sue the MBTA.
The plaintiff alleged that in her fall she sustained dislocation and fracture of her left knee, followed by recurring instability of the knee. This condition ultimately required surgical correction. The defendant argued that the plaintiff would not be able to recover against him because she would not have been successful pursuing the underlying claim against the MBTA.
The case settled after mediation, before trial.
Medical Malpractice/Unnecessary Surgery
The plaintiff, a resident of Falmouth, Massachusetts, was an employee of a convenience store in Natick, Massachusetts. While working, a stack of boxes fell on him causing a knee injury.
The plaintiff came under the care of an orthopedic surgeon who advised the plaintiff that it was necessary to perform surgery on his knee. Following surgery the plaintiff had continued difficulties with his knee and eventually sought treatment from a different orthopedic surgeon. A claim was brought against the initial orthopedic surgeon alleging that the surgery was not only unnecessary but negligently performed.
Shortly before trial the case settled for the sum of $150,000.
Action Against Real Estate Agent/Consumer Protection
The plaintiff hired a real estate agent in Woburn, Massachusetts to rent a home that she owned in Lynnfield, Massachusetts. The real estate agent was responsible for locating, screening and obtaining qualified tenants to rent the property.
The real estate agent failed to properly screen prospective tenants. After one tenant moved into the premises the tenant almost immediately stopped paying rent and caused extensive damage to the property.
A claim was brought against the real estate agent for failing to properly screen the tenant. Claims were brought against the real estate agent for negligence, breach of contract and violation of the Consumer Protection Statute. A judgment was obtained in Middlesex Superior Court in the amount of $82,000 plus interest and attorneys fees. Of note is that the Court doubled the amount of the judgment after finding a violation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Statute.
Negligence/Breach of Warranty
Counsel represented a roofing contractor, located in Springfield and Worcester, MA who two years prior to the plaintiff's accident installed a rubber membrane roof as part of a contract entered into with the City of Cambridge to replace the roof at the Cambridge Police Headquarters building, under a theory that the defendant had negligently installed the new roof. During the course of litigation claims were added for breach of express warranty, breach of fitness for particular purpose, and breach of implied warranty of merchantability.
On September 14, 1993, the plaintiff, a Cambridge resident and civilian emergency services telecommunications dispatcher employed by the City of Cambridge at Cambridge Police Headquarters was struck by a wet 2' x 3' ceiling tile while in the course of her employment. She claimed that the waterlogged ceiling tile fell from a hallway ceiling due to its being made heavier from roof leaks.
The plaintiff alleged that subsequent to this incident she experienced significant debilitating pain in her neck, as well as her left arm. Approximately 2 months post-accident she underwent a cervical MRI that revealed she had sustained a central rupture of the C5-6 disc. Because of fear of greater complications, emergency surgery was performed at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the C5-6 disc was removed in its entirety. Subsequent physical therapy and epidural steroid injections (as well as the implanting of an epidural catheter) did not improve her condition. The plaintiff alleged that as a result of her accident she sustained a traumatic rupture of the C5-6 disc with neck and left arm pain, post-traumatic ankylosis of the cervical spine and adhesive capsulitis of the left shoulder. She alleged total disability dating back to September 14, 1993. The plaintiff's medical expert opined that the plaintiff had a 44% impairment of the left upper extremity and a 29% impairment of the whole person due to loss of motion in her neck. The plaintiff also claimed that she would never be able to return to gainful employment. Plaintiff asserted special damages in excess of $500,000.00, and demanded $1.3 million to settle the claim
Sixteen witnesses testified during the two-week trial. The plaintiff called three expert witnesses, a project manager for the consulting engineering firm of Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, an orthopedic expert and an economist. The defendants called a retired Northeastern University professor of mechanical engineering as their liability expert. At trial, defendant argued that the implied warranty of merchantability was inapplicable to it as the work performed for the City of Cambridge was under a contract for services as opposed to a sale of goods. Testimony of defendant's former project manager established that labor costs greatly exceeded the cost of the membrane. With regard to liability expert testimony, the plaintiff's expert witness admitted that the membrane utilized at the Cambridge Police Headquarters was widely used and accepted in the building industry. Defendant's liability expert maintained that there was no evidence of a water trail from any roof penetration to the hallway.
The jury returned a defense verdict that the roofer was not negligent, nor was it liable for breach of warranty.