Appellate Cases

We don't just follow the law - sometimes we make it.

Throughout the history of the firm, SUGARMAN attorneys have been instrumental in helping to shape personal injury law in Massachusetts through verdicts and appellate decisions. These decisions have not only upheld jury verdicts that SUGARMAN has obtained on behalf of its clients, but some have also conferred new rights of recovery for injured parties and their families. The following is a sampling of the cases litigated by SUGARMAN lawyers which resulted in appellate decisions that impacted the formation of personal injury law in Massachusetts.

Gaeta v. National Fire Ins. Co., 410 Mass. 592 (1991)

Pursuant to a court-approved settlement under G. L. c. 152, §15, the Massachusetts Insurers Insolvency Fund cannot avoid its obligation of reimbursing any monies paid by a worker’s compensation insurance company.

McStowe v. Bornstein, 377 Mass. 804 (1979)

Established precedent allowing legal malpractice suits to continue after the death of the defendant’s attorney.

Tryon v. City of Lowell, 29 Mass. App. Ct. 720 (1991)

The Superior Court’s judgment for the defendant was overturned because the extent of the duty owed by the City to an injured child was a question of fact for the jury to determine, and the defendant could not avoid liability under the discretionary function exemption of the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act (G. L. c. 258, §10(b)). At trial, the jury awarded the plaintiffs damages for injuries to a child trespasser after his arm was run over by a train as he walked along railroad tracks on his way to school.

Courtemanche v. AT&T Co., 47 Mass. App. Ct. 1110 (1999)

The dismissal of the plaintiff’s case by the trial court was reversed, and a new trial was ordered. In the Appellate Court, SUGARMAN lawyers successfully argued that the plaintiff had shown sufficient evidence, and that a jury could reasonably infer that the accident was caused by the defendant’s negligence.

Karlin v. Massachusetts Turnpike Auth., 399 Mass. 765 (1987)

SUGARMAN lawyers won appeal, which established that the Turnpike Authority was not immune from a suit in which it caused a quadriplegic injury, and that the amount of recovery was not limited by statute.

Smith v. Steinberg, 395 Mass. 666 (1985)

Allowed suit against doctor employed at University of Massachusetts, even though employees of the Commonwealth are generally immune from suit.

Franklin v. Albert, 381 Mass. 611 (1980)

A cause of action does not accrue in medical malpractice cases under G.L. c. 260, §4 until the plaintiff knows, or reasonably should have known, of the harm from the defendant’s conduct. This decision allowed SUGARMAN lawyers to bring a claim on behalf of our client.

Mirageas v. Massachusetts Bay Transp. Auth., 391 Mass. 815 (1984)

After a 13-year-old was run over by an MBTA trolley, the teenager’s foot was amputated. The jury verdict was affirmed on appeal, with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court holding that the defendant waived its defense under G. L. c. 161A, §21, and that the damages awarded were not excessive.

Bois v. United States, 747 F. Supp. 109 (D. Mass. 1990)

A judgment won by SUGARMAN attorneys against the United States was upheld in a case of medical malpractice, in which the physician failed to diagnose throat cancer.

Zeller v. American Safety Razor Corp., 15 Mass. App. Ct. 919 (1983)

A patient was injured when surgical blade broke in her back during spinal surgery. Verdict for SUGARMAN’s client was upheld when the defendants expressly waived their objections to the admission of evidence by failing to properly preserve their argument under Mass.R.Civ.P. 50(a).

Downs v. Gulf & Western Mfg. Co., 677 F. Supp. 661 (D. Mass. 1987)

A new trial was granted, allowing SUGARMAN lawyers to present the plaintiff’s claims of negligence and breach of implied warranty of merchantability against the defendant.

Haidak v. Collagen Corp., 67 F. Supp.2d 21 (D. Mass. 1999)

Product liability claim as a result of bovine collagen injections were not pre-empted by Federal pre-market approval process and resulted in injuries.

Hooper v. Davis-Standard Corp, et al., 482 F. Supp 2d 157 (2007)

After SUGARMAN lawyers successfully resolved a product liability action in favor of a machine worker injured by a defective industrial machine (recovering a substantial settlement from the machine manufacturer), the worker’s employer tried to bring an action against the same manufacturer for its business loss. The machine manufacturer successfully defeated the claims of the employer.

Mark v. Obear & Sons, Inc., 313 F. Supp. 373 (D. Mass. 1970)

Under the long-arm statute, the court had jurisdiction over the defendant, a California corporation, which manufactured and sold its products in Massachusetts, where the plaintiff resided. The decision allowed SUGARMAN lawyers to bring a claim in Massachusetts on behalf of our client.

Sabel v. Meade Johnson & Co., 737 F.Supp. 135 (D. Mass. 1990)

The United States District Court decided in favor of injured patient who suffered severe complications from a drug manufactured by defendant drug company and allowed evidence at trial of post-injury warnings ordered by FDA. The case settled before the jury began deliberations.

Lang v. Edward J. Lamothe Co., 20 Mass. App. Ct. 231 (1985)

The defendant did not pay workers’ compensation benefits to the plaintiff, and as a result, did not receive the benefit of the workers’ compensation exemption of employers from tort liability.

Hemric v. Reed & Prince Mfg. Co., 575 F. Supp. 254 (D. Mass. 1983), aff’d, 739 F.2d 1 (1st Cir. 1984)

The statue of limitations is a matter of procedure governed by the law of the forum state.

Leibovich v. Antonellis, 410 Mass. 568 (1991)

Upheld a jury verdict won by SUGARMAN lawyers for a case in which a teenaged son was injured in a car crash. This allowed the parents to recover damages for their own injuries, as well as those of their son.

Baudanza v. Comcast, 454 Mass. 622 (2009)

The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed judgment in favor of our client following a jury verdict and post-trial motions awarding increases to damages found by jury. The client sustained severe injuries when his vehicle was struck by a cable company van.

Royal Indem. Co. v. Blakely, 372 Mass. 86 (1977)

G. L. c. 175, §113L, which requires every automobile to have coverage for injuries caused by uninsured autos, does not entitle a family to stack its uninsured coverage and obtain additional protection or compensation from vehicles other than the one that was involved in the accident.

Frutin v. Dryvit Systems, Inc., 760 F. Supp 234 (D. Mass. 1990)

The Court ruled that the United States can be held liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act for failure to issue a traffic advisory. The trial that followed resulted in a jury award to SUGARMAN’s client for a below-the-knee amputation suffered by a student pilot in a mid-air collision.

Griffin v. General Motors Corp., 380 Mass. 362 (1980)

Jury verdict against General Motors affirmed on appeal, in a case where an improperly designed car allowed fumes from the engine to enter the passenger compartment, explode, and severely burn the driver.

Diaz v. Eli Lilly & Co., 364 Mass. 153 (1973) and 14 Mass. App. Ct. 448 (1982)

In this landmark product liability/pharmaceutical case, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court agreed with the arguments advanced by SUGARMAN attorneys and decided, for the first time, that a husband or wife has a claim for damages (loss of consortium) when their spouse is injured by negligence or wrongdoing.

doCanto v. Ametek, Inc., 367 Mass. 776 (1975)

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld a jury verdict to a SUGARMAN client for injuries caused by a defectively designed laundry machine. The case established precedent allowing into evidence safety changes made after the manufacture of the defective machine.

Knox vs. Schechtl Maschinenbau GmbH, et. al. 1:17-cv-11144-GAO (2019)

The First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the U.S. District Court’s decision to dismiss product liability claims against a foreign manufacturer for lack of personal jurisdiction in Massachusetts. The First Circuit agreed with SUGARMAN’s attorneys that the individual fulfillment of each order, the language in the manufacturer manual inviting direct contact from consumers and the significant stream of sales into Massachusetts over a fifteen-year period were enough to establish personal jurisdiction under existing Supreme Court precedent. The case was remanded back to U.S. District Court in Boston for further proceedings.