Wrongful Death Claims

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.

Defective consumer product – Child dies due to carbon monoxide poisoning

Settlement of wrongful death case on behalf of a family who lost a child as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. SUGARMAN attorneys brought product liability and general negligence claims alleging improper installation of a residential boiler, and a defect in the boiler which allowed it to create and introduce high concentrations of carbon monoxide into the home during foreseeable weather events, such as heavy snow storms.

Escalator death of four-year old

A four-year old boy fell to his death through a gap between an escalator and the adjacent railing. The escalator construction company failed to install deck barriers as required by the construction plans and by state escalator and building codes. Settlement with escalator contractor, store and mall owner for the boy’s parents.

Wrongful death of nursing home patient

Settlement for family of elderly patient whose C. Difficile illness went untreated for several days when the staff at her nursing home in Boston failed to review critical laboratory results and failed to transfer the patient to a hospital for immediate care. By the time the patient was transferred to a hospital, four days after her symptoms began, she was septic and she passed away shortly thereafter.

Death as a result of doctor’s failure to diagnose cardiac condition

Wrongful death settlement for widow and family of 48-year-old man against primary care physician for failure to properly examine, diagnose and treatment cardiac condition. The patient died as a result of the doctor’s malpractice.

Death following exploratory surgery

Settlement of medical malpractice lawsuit reached against surgeon in the death of 40-year-old patient who died from complications following exploratory surgery for infertility.

Death of twenty-one year old after allergic reaction

Just before the start of a scheduled trial and after significant discovery, SUGARMAN’s attorneys were able to obtain a settlement for the Estate of a twenty-one year-old man who died after the emergency room physician in a hospital outside of Boston failed to intubate the man for over an hour. The man had arrived at the emergency room barely able to breath due to an allergic reaction. Instead of performing a surgical airway, the physician attempted multiple incorrect methods of airway management, causing the patient’s death.

Wrongful death following surgery at Boston-area VA hospital

Settlement for widow and adult children of a 71 year-old veteran following improper placement of a feeding tube during esophagus surgery. During two separate surgeries, the defendant surgeon failed to secure the feeding tube into the small bowel and instead pierced the bowel, causing bile leakage, infection and the patient’s death. The case resolved following extensive discovery and prior to trial in the Federal Court for the District of Massachusetts.

Gas explosion

Settlement against contractor for physical and psychological injuries to a 19-year-old man following a gas explosion at a residential home.

Traumatic brain injury and eventual death following excavator accident

Settlement for the daughter of a construction worker who was struck by an excavator’s boom on a large development project in Everett. The excavator operator knew that the worker was in the area, but failed to look and make sure that the worker was a safe distance away before the operator moved the boom and violently struck him. The worker suffered catastrophic injuries that eventually caused his death 3 months later. In addition to a host of safety violations and unsafe practices, SUGARMAN attorneys were able to establish that the excavator operator had been previously fired for unsafe operation by the same company that later hired him to work on the development project. The case resolved shortly before trial.

Death of four-year old due to defective design of escalator

A four-year old boy fell to his death through a gap between an escalator and the adjacent railing. The escalator had been installed as a replacement and was narrower than the original escalator. The escalator construction company failed to install deck barriers as required by the construction plans and by state escalator and building codes, resulting in the escalator being in a defective and dangerous condition. After extensive discovery, SUGARMAN lawyers settled the wrongful death lawsuit with the escalator contractor, store, and mall owner for the benefit of the boy’s parents.

Hospital’s electronic medical records reveal physicians aware of patient’s condition

Recovery for the family of a 47 year-old man who died from pulmonary emboli following hip replacement surgery at a northeastern Massachusetts hospital. The patient’s family brought suit against multiple defendants responsible for the patient’s care during his recovery from surgery, including a nurse who failed to properly administer one of his medications. The case settled following extensive discovery, including multiple depositions of medical personnel who did not examine the patient, but were noted in audit logs to have accessed the patient’s electronic medical records shortly before his death and thus were aware of his condition.

Wrongful death following failure to report lung mass

Pre-trial settlement of medical malpractice case for widow against radiologist and his medical practice. The client’s fifty-seven year-old husband had undergone an abdominal CT scan relative to gastrointestinal issues. The CT scan incidentally revealed a suspicious mass in the patient’s lung which was missed by the radiologist and never reported to the patient until it was found on a subsequent scan, resulting in a delay in diagnosis of lung cancer for nearly a year and a half. He underwent a resection, but the cancer returned months later. The patient was subsequently diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer and died the following year.

Mismanagement of labor results in newborn’s death

Settlement of medical malpractice case for parents of newborn who died several hours after her birth due to the mismanagement of her labor and delivery, resulting in severe anoxic injury.

Christopher v. Father’s Huddle Cafe, Inc., et al., 57 Mass. App. Ct. 217 (2003)

The verdict, which included punitive damages against the bar and its management company for failure to provide adequate security, was upheld on appeal. The verdict was reached after a patron died off the premises of the bar, as a result of the inadequate security measure.

Medical Malpractice – Negligent intubation

Wrongful death settlement following the death of 54-year-old intensive care patient.

Wrongful death as a result of a car’s detached tire

Settlement obtained for the family of a 26 year-old man who was killed when a tire detached from a truck on the highway, striking the man’s windshield and causing fatal head injuries. The defendant truck driver was a student a trade school where the tire and wheel assembly had been improperly secured to the truck by the defendant truck driver and a fellow student due to the negligence and gross negligence of the school in failing to provide proper supervision and inspection of the work performed.

Arbitration award for death caused by respiratory depression

Arbitration award for the family of a 68-year-old man who passed away just 12 hours following a routine hip replacement surgery. The patient died from complications of respiratory depression caused by the standard post-operative administration of narcotic pain medications.

Hughes v. Tenet Metrowest Healthcare, et al., 2006-J-0579

The Massachusetts Appeals Court allowed the issuance of a significant pre-trial attachment against the assets of a for-profit hospital in a medical malpractice case involving the death of a 35-year-old mother of two children. Although the hospital had claimed that it did not have assets to satisfy a judgment, SUGARMAN’s attorneys were able to identify a significant and previously undisclosed corporate account through painstaking work and forensic accounting. The case settled soon after the decision.

Wrongful death and serious injuries in Jamaicaway drunk driving crash

Pre-trial settlement on behalf of family of a woman killed in a drunk driving accident as well as on behalf of two others who suffered serious injuries in the same crash. The drunk driver became intoxicated at a Boston bar and was attempting to drop off her passengers when she crossed a double yellow line on the Jamaicaway and struck another vehicle head on. The drunk driver’s blood alcohol level was later found to be almost three times the legal limit.

Aleo v. Toys R Us, Inc., 466 Mass. 398 (2013)

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld a jury verdict of $20.6 million, including the jury’s award of punitive damages, in this landmark wrongful death case arising out of the defective design and manufacture of an inflatable pool slide.

Verdict – Wrongful death involving defective pool slide

SUGARMAN lawyers secured $20.6 million in punitive and compensatory damages in Essex Superior Court in Salem, MA for a Colorado man whose wife was critically injured from a defective pool slide sold online and in stores by Toys R Us. The slide was imported from China and did not comply with federal standards regulating swimming pool slides. The jury award is the largest wrongful death/personal injury verdict in Massachusetts in 2011 and was upheld on appeal. Aleo v. SLB, 466 Mass. 398 (2013).

Wrongful death – Pedestrian killed due to defective road design

Settlement for family of pedestrian who was killed after being hit by a car. The defendant property owner failed to install barriers or guardrails in a shopping center access road, both of which would have prevented the accident and the pedestrian’s death.

Wrongful death following crush injuries to forklift operator

Pre-trial settlement on behalf of children of a middle-aged temporary worker who was crushed to death between the forklift he was operating and a metal shelving unit in a South Shore warehouse where he had been assigned to work by his staffing agency.

Wrongful Death Claims

A defective industrial product that needlessly kills a worker. A botched surgery that results in a patient’s death. A violent car crash with multiple victims. There are a number of tragic circumstances that can give rise to a wrongful death claim under Massachusetts law. These claims are unique in that they often involve issues of not only personal injury law, but also probate, estate and family law as well. Massachusetts has specific laws that dictate who may recover when a wrongful death claim is brought, the process for establishing which family member has the right to bring a claim on behalf of the deceased, and the types of damages that juries are allowed to award in wrongful death claims.