Articles Posted in Negligence

Driver and an older pedestrian at a Massachusetts crosswalk

Massachusetts state officials are working to improve safety for older pedestrians.

When the snow falls, Massachusetts becomes more treacherous for everyone who walks. Older pedestrians are particularly vulnerable.

Massachusetts now has more than one million residents who are 65 or older – or roughly 15 percent of our population, according to a recent report, “Risk Factors for Older Pedestrian Injuries and Fatalities in MA.” The report was prepared for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) in August 2019.

As Massachusetts residents live longer, many are more likely to be out walking for health or transportation. The state report identifies common risks to older pedestrians:


Winter Months. Researchers studied 4,472 pedestrian crashes across Massachusetts between 2006 and 2015, reporting crashes involving older pedestrians peak at 5 p.m. and during the month of December. November and January are also high risk months for older pedestrians, as they navigate darker conditions. When snow and ice is not cleared, sidewalks, parking lots and driveways can also contribute to unsafe conditions, as do drivers who fail to look for pedestrians and stop at crosswalks.

Causes of Older Pedestrian Crashes. Drivers who caused older pedestrian crashes were often inattentive, failed to yield the right of way or had trouble with visibility.

Where Older Pedestrians Were Hit. Older pedestrians were often hit at crosswalks at intersections, where they should have safety protections.

Where Older Pedestrians Crashes Occur. Researchers found Cambridge, Fall River, Lynn and New Bedford among the the top communities for highest number of older pedestrian crashes and the highest per capita.

Changing Face of Pedestrian Accidents. Crash rates involving “younger old” pedestrians – those between age 55 and 74 – increased. Crash rates among older pedestrians (75 and older) remained consistent.

Community Health. Communities with higher rates of disability reported greater rates of older pedestrian crashes. These included the urban neighborhoods of Boston, Lawrence and Chelsea.

Community Amenities. Communities with a high number of cultural amenities within walking distance – such as libraries and fitness centers – had higher crash rates among older pedestrians.

Not Just Older Pedestrians in Massachusetts. This state report comes as pedestrian fatalities rise across the country. Last March, the Governors Highway Safety Association announced a 35 percent increase in pedestrian deaths from 10 years ago (Streets Blog). This was the highest number of pedestrian fatalities since 1990.

Nationally, research shows 48 percent of pedestrian fatalities involved victims 50 and older, according to the Massachusetts study. Meanwhile, Massachusetts reports half of all pedestrian fatalities involve a pedestrian 55 and older.


Report Recommendations

The state report recommends work to protect older pedestrians be tied in with the Governor’s Council to Address Aging in Massachusetts, which was established in 2017. Among other advisories, the state report also sought infrastructure improvements in certain communities and creation of a winter public awareness campaign aimed at protecting older pedestrians.


Our Safety Tips for Pedestrians During Winter

Wear Neon. Pedestrians can make themselves more visible to traffic by wearing neon colors and neon reflective tape. Consider buying neon jackets, vests, hats and gloves to stand out.

Our Safety Tips for Drivers During Winter

Stop at Crosswalks. Make eye contact with pedestrians at crosswalks. Stop as they cross.

Other Drivers. Stop if you are approaching a driver who has stopped for a pedestrian at a crosswalk. Allow the pedestrian to completely cross the street.

Avoid Night Driving At Times. If you are overtired or are having trouble seeing at night, don’t drive. Make an appointment to have a doctor check your vision. Wear your eyeglasses as prescribed when you drive.

Limit Alcohol Consumption. Never drive while intoxicated. Use the designated driver system.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers

With over 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck has been consistently recognized for our results in personal injury cases in Massachusetts, including by Top 100 New England Super Lawyers and U.S. News Best Law Firms. If you or a loved one has been injured by someone’s negligence, it is in your best interests to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer. For a free legal consultation, contact our attorneys at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Breakstone, White & Gluck wishes you a wonderful holiday season. Marc L. Breakstone, David W. White and Ronald E. Gluck founded our firm in 1992 and this year, we began our 27th year of representing clients injured by negligence and wrongdoing in Massachusetts. Again in 2019, our partners – along with our associate Reza Breakstone – committed to achieving the best financial results for our clients.  Please join us as we share some of our work:

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone Interviewed About Lynnway Auto Auction Indictments

In March, Attorney Marc L. Breakstone was interviewed by WHDH TV about the criminal indictments returned against the Lynnway Auto Auction and its company president. Each was charged with five counts of manslaughter in the 2017 crash killing five people. Attorney Breakstone is representing one of the families who lost a loved one.


Attorney David W. White Interviewed by NBC Boston on E-Scooters

Attorney David W. White was interviewed by NBC Boston for a segment called, “Are You Protected in a Scooter Crash? Experts Say Read the Fine Print.”


Attorney Ronald E. Gluck Negotiates $1.6 Million Settlement for Client Who Suffered Concussion and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Attorney Ronald E. Gluck negotiated a $1.6 million settlement for a client who suffered a concussion and mild traumatic brain injury. Attorney Gluck discusses his work for clients in this area:


Project KidSafe and Community Outreach

david-dedham-1200-highlightsIn April, Breakstone, White & Gluck launched our 7th annual Project KidSafe campaign with a bike helmet giveaway at Framingham Earth Day. We recently concluded another successful year, donating more than 4,000 bicycle helmets to children across Massachusetts. To reach children and families, our firm partnered with more than 35 community organizations, including 12 police departments, schools and bicycle committees, along with MassBike and Massachusetts Safe Routes to School.

With this year’s donations, our attorneys have now given away more than 25,000 helmets, with a goal of protecting children on bicycles, preventing head injuries and saving lives.

As we made our last helmet donation of 2019, we were especially touched by kind words from Boston Police Commissioner William Gross:

Outside our Project KidSafe campaign, we supported many bar and community organizations, including the Massachusetts Bar Association and Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys. In January, we supported and participated in the Equal Justice Coalition’s Walk on the Hill, when lawyers across the state advocate for increased state funding for civil legal aid.


Attorney Marc L. Breakstone Published in MATA Journal

In May, Attorney Marc Breakstone was published in the MATA Journal, with an article called, “Assessing bias in voir dire after ‘Williams.’


Attorney Ronald E. Gluck Successfully Resolves Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Case Caused by Heavy Snow Collapse

In May, Attorney Ronald E. Gluck announced he had successfully resolved a mild traumatic brain injury case for our client, who was injured when heavy snow collapsed from a commercial warehouse roof onto her vehicle.


Attorney Marc L. Breakstone Wins $1.1 Million Verdict in Rhode Island Case

In May, Attorney Marc L. Breakstone won a $1.1 million verdict for our client who was injured in a car accident.


Awards: Best Lawyers in America© 2020

In August, Attorneys Marc L. Breakstone, David W. White and Ronald E. Gluck were selected for inclusion to the Best Lawyers in America© 2020. Our attorneys were recognized for their excellent work in personal injury, medical malpractice, professional malpractice and insurance law cases.


Attorney Marc L. Breakstone Reaches $2.15 Million Settlement in Fatal Crash Caused by Unsafe Parking Lot

In October, Attorney Marc L. Breakstone announced a $2.15 million settlement in a case where a car had accelerated onto a sidewalk at a strip mall and killed his client.


Awards: 2019 Super Lawyers

In October, Attorneys Marc L. Breakstone, David W. White and Ronald E. Gluck were all recognized in the 2019 Super Lawyers rankings. Our firm honors included Top 100 New England Super Lawyers, Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers and Massachusetts Super Lawyers recognition in the areas of personal injury and medical malpractice. Our attorneys were recognized for the 16th year.


Awards: Best Law Firms of America© 2020

In November, Breakstone, White & Gluck was recognized in the 2020 Edition of U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms.” Our firm received rankings as a Tier 1 Boston law firm in personal injury litigation representing plaintiffs and a Tier 1 Boston law firm in medical malpractice litigation representing plaintiffs.


Attorney Marc L. Breakstone Published in MATA Journal

In November, Marc L. Breakstone was published in the MATA Journal, with an article called, “Establishing Liability: Through the Defendant.”


Free Legal Consultation – Breakstone, White & Gluck – Personal Injury Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck has more than 100 years combined experience representing clients in cases involving personal injury, wrongful death, medical malpractice, motor vehicle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, head injuries, construction accidents, premises liability and product liability. If you or a loved one has been injured, contact our attorneys for a free legal consultation and learn your legal rights: 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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It is our pleasure to announce that Super Lawyers has recognized Breakstone, White & Gluck in its 2019 rankings. This was the 16th year our attorneys have been recognized.

Marc L. BreakstoneMarc L. Breakstone has been selected to the Top 100 New England Super Lawyers, Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers and the 2019 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list, recognized as a top-rated medical malpractice attorney in Boston.

DW-250David W. White has been selected to the 2019 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list, recognized as a top-rated personal injury attorney in Boston. Attorney White has previously been selected to the Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawers seven times and to the Top 100 New England Super Lawyers  three times.

Ronald E. GluckRonald E. Gluck has been selected to the 2019 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list, recognized as a top-rated personal injury attorney in Boston. 

Super Lawyers is a rating service which highlights outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas. Selections are made using a multiphase process, including a statewide survey of lawyers, independent research and evaluation and peer reviews from within a practice area. 

Super Lawyers recognizes the top 5 percent of lawyers from that process. Another 2.5 percent of attorneys are selected to the Rising Stars list, which showcases talented attorneys under age 40. 

About Breakstone, White & Gluck
Over 100 Years Combined Experience in Personal Injury Plaintiff Representation
Breakstone, White & Gluck is respected across Massachusetts for our commitment to our clients and our results.  We have been representing plaintiffs in personal injury and medical malpractice cases as a firm since 1992. Each of our partners has over 30 years of experience.

Our firm is experienced in handling all types of personal injury cases, including those involving catastrophic accidents, wrongful death, motor vehicle accidents, product liability, premises liability, construction accidents, explosions, spinal cord injuries, head injuries and traumatic brain injuries. Our attorneys are regularly interviewed in the local media for their expertise in these specialties and Massachusetts insurance laws.

We have always been active in the Massachusetts legal community and are dedicated to sharing our knowledge with other attorneys through continuing legal education and professional organizations. Attorney Marc L. Breakstone and Attorney Ronald E. Gluck serve on the Board of Trustees for the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys (MATA), while Attorney David W. White is a past president of the Massachusetts Bar Association. We are also committed to giving back and working to prevent injuries. Through our Project KidSafe campaign, our attorneys have given away more than 25,000 free bicycle helmets to children across the state of Massachusetts. 

We invite you to visit our website to read about our work and watch testimonials from past clients.

Free Legal Consultation – Breakstone, White & Gluck

If you have been injured, you should speak to an experienced Boston personal injury lawyer and learn your legal rights for seeking financial compensation. For a free consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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Attorney Marc L. Breakstone

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone was interviewed this past weekend about the civil and criminal cases against actor Kevin Spacey. Breakstone said the accuser’s decision to withdraw the civil lawsuit “with prejudice” is extremely significant.

“This will never be refiled,” Breakstone told The Boston Globe. “This claim is now extinguished for all time.”

The accuser, who is the son of former Boston television anchor Heather Unruh, just filed the civil lawsuit in Nantucket Superior Court on June 26. Breakstone said the withdrawal of the civil lawsuit could mean Spacey has reached a settlement with the accuser. If there is such an agreement, Breakstone said, there will likely be confidentially requirement to keep the details private and out of public view.

Spacey and his legal team are scheduled to return to Nantucket District Court this morning for a hearing in the criminal case. Breakstone said withdrawal of the civil lawsuit could jeopardize the criminal proceedings, but prosecutors interviewed by The Boston Globe insisted the civil case will not affect the criminal proceedings.

Kevin Spacey is a two-time Oscar winner best known for his role on “House of Cards,” a Netflix production. He played the character of Frank Underwood from 2013 through 2017, when he was charged with indecent assault and battery in Nantucket. Netflix kept producing the show, but cut ties with Spacey.

Spacey is accused of indecent assault and battery on Unruh’s son in July 2016 at Nantucket’s Club Car Restaurant.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck have over 100 years combined experience representing those injured by the negligence and wrongdoing of others. If you have been injured, learn your rights. For a free legal consultation, 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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Attorney Marc Breakstone commented as a legal expert in a Boston Globe article this week on Worcester Polytechnical Institute’s (WPI) response to a negligence lawsuit, brought by a former student who was raped while studying abroad. The college responded that the student was partially responsible.

“It’s a strategy that, frankly, often backfires in trial because the jury gets incensed,” Attorney Breakstone said.

This is a comparative negligence argument. This is traditionally an argument defense lawyers try and make for slip-and-fall cases or other accidents. In these cases, juries are left to assign a percentage of blame on the defendant and the plaintiff. In this case, Attorney Breakstone called the use, “repugnant.”

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Poor communication between doctors and hospital staff hurts patients and causes many deaths, a new study reports. Electronic medical records should improve communication, but doctors are not always reading results.

Communication failures played a role in 30 percent of the medical malpractice cases examined by CRISCO Strategies of Boston. The study was released Monday.

The study reports on roughly a third of all paid medical malpractice claims nationwide, nearly 24,000 cases from 2009 to 2013. Over 7,000 cases involved communication failures which injured patients, including 1,744 resulting in wrongful death.

“Good communication in the medical record or in verbal reports is the hallmark of good medical care. We have seen many preventable deaths and serious injury cases that were the result of communication breakdowns,” Attorney Marc L. Breakstone said.

When Medical Mistakes May Happen

Electronic medical records may get doctors test results more promptly, but the study shows some are not reading them:

  • One woman’s cancer diagnosis was delayed for a full year. Her primary care doctor never read the lab result in her electronic medical record.
  • A patient was rushed to the emergency room and died after his lungs filled with blood. Less than two weeks earlier, his primary care doctor had referred him to a lung doctor. The two doctors failed to communicate about the lab results on the patient’s electronic medical record, which showed possible early congestive heart failure.

Many mistakes – 80 percent – happen as a result of miscommunication when doctors and medical staff transfer patient cases, according to the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare.

Across the country, 32 hospitals are trying to improve communication by adopting the I-PASS approach for how doctors and nurses communicate during shift changes, according to the medical publication STAT. One of these hospitals is Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

What Patients Can Take Away from This Study

Monitor Your Medical Records. If you have the option, monitor your medical records online. You will gain a better understanding of how your doctor and the medical practice approach your care. If you find a mistake, ask for a correction. On the other hand, if you do not have electronic access, remember you have the right to make a written request for medical records at any time.


When Shifts Change. Before the day of a surgery, ask when the surgeons and nurses change shifts. Ask what to expect if your procedure is delayed.


Patient Advocate. Bring someone you trust to your pre-operation appointment and to your procedure. Our article about the Massachusetts Patient’s Bill of Rights may be a helpful resource.


Research Online. Research if your doctor or surgeon has been disciplined or has paid medical malpractice claims in the Massachusetts Board of Registration database. You can also search Medicare’s Hospital Compare database for hospital information, ratings and practices.


Make Your Own Decision. Online databases and electronic medical records are important but make your own decision about your doctor’s communication. Observe their practices firsthand, ask questions and choose another doctor if you are concerned.

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A man who was injured by a driver who suffered a seizure due to his brain tumor could not sue the driver’s neurologist for allegedly failing to warn him not to drive, or for otherwise failing to control his driving.

On December 21, 2001, the plaintiff suffered serious personal injury when he was struck by a car operated by the defendant driver. The driver had been diagnosed with a brain tumor in September 2000 after he had suffered a grand mal seizure. The tumor was malignant and inoperable.

The driver waited six months before he began driving again, as required by Massachusetts law. His treating neurologist, Frederick Hochberg, M.D. of Massachusetts General Hospital, allegedly did not attempt to prevent his patient from driving again and did not warn him not to drive. 

After he was hurt, the plaintiff sued the driver’s estate (the driver had passed away). He also brought a medical negligence claim against Dr. Hochberg. The plaintiff claimed that Dr. Hochberg owed a general duty to the public who might be injured due to the nature of the underlying medical condition that he was treating. The plaintiff argued that the duty rose from the special relationship between a physician and a patient. The plaintiff argued that general negligence principles created a duty in Dr. Hochberg to warn his patient of the dangers of driving while suffering from the brain tumor. The Supreme Judicial Court rejected both arguments.

The court found that this doctor-patient relationship was not a “special relationship” which would give rise to a duty to prevent harm to a third person. Absent such a special relationship, the court said, “there is no duty to control another person’s conduct to prevent that person from causing harm to a third party.”

In 2007, the court had found, in Coombes v. Florio, 450 Mass 182 (2007), that a physician may have a duty to warn his or her patient about the side effects of medication being prescribed. The court ruled that this duty extended to third parties who might be injured if the warning had not been given. But the court refused to extend that ruling to include medical conditions under treatment.

The Coombes case was seen by the court as a very narrow exception to the general rule that a physician owes no duty to third parties who might be injured by a patient. The court stated that the duty sought by the plaintiff would “impose on physicians an affirmative duty … to nonpatients to warn patient of the risks of driving due to any underlying medical condition. We conclude this is an unwarranted and ill-advised expansion of liability for several reasons.”

The main concern of the court was that the physician did not do anything to increase the likelihood of harm by the patient, compared to the physician who might be liable for prescribing medication and thus creating additional risk. The court also believed that further imposition of duty would intrude on the doctor-patient relationship and might increase collateral costs. 

This case represents the second time the court has stated that it will not be expanding the duty recognized in the Coombes case.  At least that narrow exception survived.

The case is Medina v. Hochberg, SJC-11178 (May 13, 2013).

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The fire on April 26, 2013 at 87 Linden Street in Allston, the second serious fire in less than two years on the same block, is a tragic reminder of what can happen with overcrowded, substandard student housing.

The Fire Marshall will now investigate the cause of the Allston fire. In addition, The Boston Inspectional Services Division should examine whether the unit was overcrowded in violation of the Boston Zoning Ordinance, and whether housing codes and accessibility codes were violated. Enforcement of city ordinances is,
unfortunately, inconsistent, and usually after the fact. Knowing this,
landlords and realty companies frequently violate these ordinances in the name of profits. The victims are often unsuspecting college students. As a result,
students, who pay high rents, are subjected to increased risks from their overcrowded housing.

The law in Massachusetts governs how homes must be safely maintained in order to prevent personal injury to occupants of the property. In Boston, zoning ordinances require building owners to declare whether their properties are single-family or multi-family units. In either case, under Boston’s zoning ordinances, under the definition of “family,” no unit may be occupied by more than four unrelated students unless the building meets much stricter building requirements.

It is also generally illegal for a landlord to create bedrooms in basements, and it may be against code to create a bedroom in an attic. No matter how it is configured, every house or apartment must have working smoke detectors throughout the unit.

Once a unit exceeds the four unrelated-occupant threshold, it technically becomes a rooming house, which makes it subject to very strict fire-prevention regulations under M.G.L. c. 148, Sec. 26I and other regulations. For example, a rooming house must have walls and ceilings made from fire-rated materials to slow flames in the event of a fire. Smoke detectors must be in every bedroom,
and must be interconnected. Even more important, every boarding house must have a working sprinkler system. Boarding houses must also meet accessibility guideline and provide multiple means of egress for upper floors, which may include fire escapes.

Real estate brokers and leasing agents share responsibility for student overcrowding and exposure to risk from substandard housing. A quick look at any leasing agent’s website will reveal scores of units available for student occupancy which are intended to house more than four unrelated individuals. Leasing agents collect a single month’s rent, sometimes more, for their services. Since they also take the responsibility to collect signatures on leases, they know exactly how many students will be in the unit. Leasing agents simply cannot claim ignorance of the laws regarding overcrowding.

Who May Be Liable
It is our firm’s opinion that violations of the boarding house rules are evidence of negligence and may create liability for the responsible landlord.
We also believe that knowing and willful violations of the boarding house rules by real estate companies or leasing agents may subject them to liability as well. Violations of these standards may also be violations of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, which may subject landlords and their leasing agents to multiple damages and attorneys’ fees.

Other Cases
Injuries and death from substandard housing may also lead to criminal charges against landlords. For example, in January 2012, two absentee landlords were convicted of manslaughter after a fire in an illegal apartment in Quincy led to the deaths of three tenants. The landlords were accused of wantonly violating building and fire codes.

The question of the enforceability of rooming house regulations is also pending at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. In that case, civil claims were brought against a Worcester landlord for violation of the Worcester zoning bylaw. In that city, no more than four unrelated persons can occupy a home. The city brought the violation because there were more than four students in the unit. The decision in that case is expected to be handed down in the next few weeks.

Update: The City of Boston later cited the owner of the two-family structure, Anna Belokurova, for running an illegal rooming house and not obtaining the permits needed to create bedrooms in the basement, according to The Boston GlobeRead more.

Related:

Woman killed, firefighters and occupants injured in raging Allston fire, Boston Herald.

One dead, 15 injured in Allston house fire, The Boston Globe.

Jury finds landlords guilty of involuntary manslaughter in Quincy apartment fire, The Patriot Ledger.

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If you exercise at a health club, you may not be aware that Massachusetts law protects you in many ways from unlawful club contracts.  But many local health clubs – yours may be included – are regularly violating the law.

Health clubs are serving larger numbers than in the past. Over 50.2 million Americans now hold gym memberships, a 10 percent increase over the past three years, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association.

The industry has been known to make it challenging for members to cancel or put their memberships on hold. Sometimes, after you sign the cancellation agreement, they require you to pay until month’s end, then another full “last month.” In addition to monthly membership fees, many are also now adding new fees for “annual” memberships and equipment maintenance. Some are even charging cancellation fees up to $200. This is still legal in Massachusetts, though not at all consumer friendly.

But did you notice the fees clearly posted the last time you visited your gym? If not, your gym is violating the law. The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation recently inspected 15 local health clubs and found none were displaying fees or informing consumers of their right to cancel within three days, according to WBZ-TV. The office is referring the results to the state Attorney General’s office.

Health clubs cannot ask a member to sign a waiver of liability but, surprisingly, many still do. While waivers of liability, also known as releases, are generally enforceable in Massachusetts, G.L. c. 93, Sec. 80 specifically states, “No contract for health club services may contain any provisions whereby the buyer agrees not to assert against the seller or any assignee or transferee of the health club services contract any claim or defense arising out of the health club services contract or the buyer’s activities at the health club.”

This means gyms have a duty to properly maintain their premises and equipment and make sure they are being used in a safe manner, according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. If they do not, and they were negligent, they may be responsible for your damages. If you have been injured in a Massachusetts gym, the court should find the liability waiver void. Over the years, our injury lawyers have successfully challenged these agreements.

Gyms also cannot ask members to sign up for terms longer than 36 months or require that members agree to financing that lasts longer than one month beyond the membership period. Members cannot be required to agree to monthly automatic withdrawals from a bank account.

If you are joining a gym, the best thing you can do is read the fine print on your member agreement before signing. Research the organization online through your local Better Business Bureau website.

Consumer remedies for health club violations are limited. No health club will be permitted by the courts to enforce an illegal contract. A consumer may bring claims under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, G.L. c. 93A, but damages will usually be  nominal, although attorneys’ fees would be available.

Recent Court Ruling

The possibility of class actions was virtually eliminated by the recent ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court in Tyler v. Michaels Stores, Inc., 464 Mass. 492 (2013). An invasion of a consumer’s rights may be a violation of G.L. c. 93A, but unless the consumer has suffered a separate, identifiable harm arising from the violation, there will be no remedy. This case put a disappointing crimp into collective consumer action to prevent violations of the Consumer Protection Act, leaving overworked state officials to take up the slack.

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Last week the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued an important and strongly pro-consumer decision in the case of Rhodes v. AIG Domestic Claims, Inc., 461 Mass. 486 (2012). The decision erased uncertainties created by an Appeals Court decision in the same case (78 Mass. App. Ct. 518 (2010). The decision sends the message that insurance companies will have to pay when they do not treat consumers fairly.  Attorney David W. White has written an in-depth summary, which you can read by on our website.

In this case, the plaintiff’s car was hit from behind by an 18-wheel truck. The impact fractured her spinal cord and left her paraplegic. She also suffered broken ribs. She brought claims, along with her husband and her children.

The claims management company was AIG Domestic Claims, Inc. (AIGDC). The company delayed making a settlement offer, then finally made a very low one. Another offer came during trial, this one only slightly better.