Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

Boy at a crosswalk, holding a grown-ups' handAs we approach summer, the message for Massachusetts drivers is to please slow down. Last month, in a matter of days, several car accidents seriously injured or killed pedestrians, some in crosswalks.

On May 19, just after 7 a.m., an Acton 8th grader was struck by a van in a crosswalk at the intersection of Main Street and Hayward Road. She suffered serious injuries, leaving the scene by medical helicopter.

On May 22, a minivan crashed into two elderly women in Sandwich. The women, ages 70 and 88, went into cardiac arrest and later died at Cape Cod Hospital. At the time of impact, the women were in the crosswalk at the intersection of Route 6A and Merchants Road.

Attorney David W. White of Breakstone, White & Gluck in BostonThe Metro news website interviewed Attorney David W. White and other legal experts in the wake of Aaron Hernandez’ suicide at Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts this week. Hernandez, a former New England Patriot who once received a $40 million contract extension for five years, had been serving a life sentence in the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd. As prosecutors prepared the Odin Lloyd case, they also charged Hernandez with a double murder in Boston in 2012. Hernandez was acquitted on the Boston murder charges just last week in Suffolk Superior Court. As he headed back to prison, his lawyer spoke about hopes for appealing the Odin Lloyd conviction and seeing Hernandez walk free someday.

But Hernandez apparently had no plans for appeal. Come Wednesday morning, he was found hanging from a bed sheet in his cell at the Shirley prison. The state medical examiner concluded the cause of death was suicide by asphyxia from hanging. The football player’s brain will be sent to Boston University researchers who are studying CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a progressive degenerative disease of the brain which can only be diagnosed after death. It has been found in other football players.

The suicide changes everything for Odin Lloyd’s family, who was pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit against Hernandez.

During a 2015 trial, Hernandez had been convicted of the first degree murder of Lloyd. Hernandez had an automatic right to appeal to the state’s highest court, the Supreme Judicial Court, but had not completed that appeal. Massachusetts follows a legal doctrine known as abatement ab inito. If someone dies after a conviction but before their appeal is complete, the person’s legal records and convictions are null and void.

“Now that the conviction will be vacated, the family of Odin Lloyd has lost their collateral estoppel claim and they will have to start from scratch to prove he is guilty,” White said in the Metro interview.

Hernandez appeared to have a bright future with the Patriots, then came June 26, 2013. Police arrested him at his North Attleborough home in connection with the murder of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player who had been dating the sister of Hernandez’ fiancee. Less than two hours later, Hernandez was released by the New England Patriots, who had signed him to the $40 million five-year contract extension the previous summer. The contract included a $12.5 million signing bonus. On August 27, 2012, The Boston Globe predicted, “The Patriots are going to have the tight end of duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez at least through the 2018 season.”

Read the article in the Metro (April 19, 2017).

Continue reading

hoverboardWe saw the worst that can happen last week in Harrisburg, PA when a hoverboard caught on fire in a family’s home, claiming the life of a three-year-old child.

The hoverboard reportedly ignited while charging, destroying the home. The three-year-old girl died at a local hospital and two other girls were left in critical condition. The girl’s father and a teenage boy were treated for smoke inhalation.

This tragedy was compounded by another death; a local firefighter was reportedly killed in a motor vehicle accident while driving to the fire, the victim of an alleged drunk driver who now faces charges.

Driving on U.S. roads became more dangerous in 2016. Preliminary data from the National Safety Council shows more than 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes last year, a 6 percent increase from 2015.

  • This was the first year more than 40,000 people have died in traffic accidents since 2007.
  • According to The New York Times, 2015 and 2016 saw a 14 percent increase in traffic deaths, the largest two-year increase in more than half a century.

17842197_m.jpgA woman died tragically this morning on the Southeast Expressway heading southbound, when a manhole cover became dislodged, went airborne, struck the front windshield and exited the rear windshield. She was killed instantly. The incident occurred in the Thomas P. O’Neill Junior Tunnel just before the southbound end of the tunnel.

The woman’s vehicle came to a rest in the left-hand lane of the Southeast Expressway, a short distance from the Massachusetts Avenue exit, with large gaping holes in the front and rear windshields. A state police spokesperson commented that the cause of the manhole cover to become dislodged is under investigation.

The focus of the State Police investigation will be what caused the manhole cover to become a projectile which killed this unsuspecting driver. Manhole covers, when properly installed and maintained, should remain in place. It needs to be determined whether any work had been done recently on or around this manhole.

trio-300.jpgOur partners, Marc L. Breakstone, David W. White and Ronald E. Gluck, have been selected to various 2015 Massachusetts Super Lawyers lists, for their work in the practice areas of personal injury and medical malpractice.

We are pleased to announce this honor. This is the 12th year in a row our attorneys have been selected to various Super Lawyers lists, a recognition of excellence. Super Lawyers, part of the Thomson Reuters company, makes annual selections using a multi-phase process of peer nominations, independent research and attorney evaluations. It only recognizes 5 percent of attorneys in each state.

The Massachusetts Super Lawyers lists are published online and in the November issue of Boston Magazine. You can also read more about our attorneys here:


Marc L. Breakstone

breakstone_150.jpgAttorney Breakstone was selected for these 2015 lists: Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers and Massachusetts Super Lawyers, Top Rated Medical Malpractice Attorney.

Attorney Breakstone has established a reputation as one of the top medical malpractice and personal injury lawyers in Massachusetts and New England. He has been selected to the Massachusetts Super Lawyers list for medical malpractice 12 years in a row, to the Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list nine times and to the Top 100 New England Super Lawyers list four times.

A graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, Attorney Breakstone has been practicing in Boston since 1986. He has represented clients who have been seriously injured by negligence, including in cases of wrongful death, medical malpractice, bus and truck accidents and propane gas explosions. Read his bio.


Attorney David W. White

david-150-2.jpgAttorney White was selected for these 2015 lists: Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers and Massachusetts Super Lawyers, Top Rated Personal Injury – Plaintiff Attorney.

Attorney White is a Northeastern University School of Law graduate and has 30 years of experience representing victims of personal injury and insurance bad faith cases in Massachusetts. He is a past president of the Massachusetts Bar Association.

Attorney White has been named to the Massachusetts Super Lawyers list 12 years in a row. He has been included in the Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list seven times. He has also been named to the Top 100 New England Super Lawyers list three times.

White represents clients who have been seriously injured by car accidents, bicycle accidents, dog bites, product liability, construction accidents and other personal injury claims. Read his bio.


Attorney Ronald E. Gluck

gluck_150.jpgAttorney Gluck was named to these 2015 lists: Massachusetts Super Lawyers, Top Rated Personal Injury Attorney – Plaintiff Attorney and New England Super Lawyers, Personal Injury Attorney – Plaintiff Attorney.

Attorney Gluck has consistently been named to the Massachusetts Super Lawyers list each year since 2005. He is a graduate of Boston College and Case Western Reserve University School of Law. Over his career, he has represented clients who have been seriously injured in complex cases involving wrongful death, car and trucking accidents, bicycle accidents, motorcycle accidents, liquor liability and product liability.

After 9-11, he represented victims of the World Trade Center attacks. He has also served as an expert witness on behalf of the United States Justice Department. Read his bio.


Continue reading

2464285_s.jpgDuring the past few weeks, snow plows have had little rest in the Boston area and Central Massachusetts. For most of us, they have been part of the background noise of a harsh winter and we have not even noticed them. But as of this week, two people have died as a result of snow plow crashes in the Boston area. Please be aware of the risks and talk to your family members about how you can stay safe.

On Monday afternoon, a 60-year-old employee at a Whole Foods store in Medford was struck and killed while walking across the store’s parking lot. The employee was just leaving work. The area was not open to the public at the time. The snow plow was operated Yerardi Landscape and Design of Medfield, authorities said. The snow plow accident remains under investigation by Medford Police and the Massachusetts State Police.

A week ago, a 57-year-old Weymouth woman was struck and killed by a snow plow driver who was clearing the parking lot outside her condominium complex, Tara Gardens. The driver had just cleared the woman’s parking space for her and a friend told The Boston Globe she had gotten out of her vehicle to ask him not to block her vehicle in as he left. Weymouth Police and the Norfolk County District Attorney’s office are investigating the snow plow death.

We share a few safety tips:

1) Listen to Advisories. Follow the recommendations of state and local officials about when it is best to avoid walking or driving outside.

2) Wear Neon-Colored Vests and Bright Clothing. If you are walking in the street, a neon vest or bright clothing should be a requirement, even during the day. You want snow plow drivers, as well as other drivers, to see you.

Keep a vest in your car. You can use your vest when walking from your car to your destination. It may also come in handy someday if you break down.

3) Do Not Approach Plow Trucks. Pedestrians should never approach plow trucks. Let them stay focused on removing snow.

4) Contact the Property Owner Instead. If you live in an apartment or condo complex, keep the phone number of your building management company handy on your cell phone. If you have a complaint, take a photo to send to the building owner, who can share it with their plow company.

Do the same if you work at a business office, unless you are the owner; then safe snow removal is your responsibility.

5) Expect Plows Everywhere, Even After the Snow Ends. Expect plows everywhere for a while. Even when it is not snowing, expect plows will be out trimming down high snow banks and opening up narrow roads.

6) Do Not Follow Plow Trucks Too Closely. When driving, stay a few car lengths behind plow trucks. The snow plow could hit something hard unexpectedly and not be able to stop. Avoid passing snow plows.

7) If You Have An Accident with a Snow Plow Truck. If you are driving, make sure you stop in a safe place. As you do, take note of what the plow truck looks like and the license plate if you can do so safely. If the plow driver does not stop, immediately notify the local police department to file a car accident report.

Continue reading

201501016_staircase.jpgThe City of Boston has identified 580 potentially overcrowded student apartments across the city from data provided by colleges and universities, The Boston Globe recently reported. City inspectors will now investigate whether the units are violating city zoning rules, which bar more than four full-time undergraduate students from sharing the same apartment.

The city recently collected more than 25,000 student addresses from 31 colleges and universities so it can investigate potential apartment safety violations and overcrowding. If overcrowding is found, city officials plan to work with landlords and universities to move students to safer, alternate housing.

In 2013, Boston University student Binland Lee died in an apartment fire in Allston. She had been living at the Linden Street building with more than a dozen other people, a violation of city zoning rules. The Boston Globe Spotlight team later reported the property had been converted to a two-family home after a previous fire in the 1990s. This move blocked off a central staircase and restricted access. The building owner, Anna Belokourova, was later cited for running an illegal rooming house and not obtaining the permits needed to create bedrooms in the basement.

The Lee family has filed a wrongful death and premises liability lawsuit against Belokourova as well as Gateway Real Estate Group, which rented the apartment to her and six other housemates. Attorney Ronald E. Gluck of Breakstone, White & Gluck represented another woman who was seriously injured in the same fire.

In 2014, the Boston Globe Spotlight team investigated and found other instances of unsafe and crowded conditions for Boston students. It surveyed 266 students who lived off-campus in Boston and found nearly one-third were living in units with at least five undergraduate students, a violation of city zoning law.

Also from the survey:

  • 25 percent of students reported having trouble reaching their landlord to report safety concerns
  • 20 percent reported living without functioning smoke alarms
  • 33 percent reported a lack of heat in their apartments

As these safety violations happen, more students are coming to Boston and living off-campus than in the past. Colleges are facing a space crunch and neighbors have opposed many of their efforts to build new dorms. The Boston Globe estimated more than 45,000 Boston students lived in off-campus housing in 2013, a 36 percent increase from 2006.

Our attorneys have represented Boston college students and other tenants who have suffered serious injuries as a result of housing code violations and overcrowding conditions. Here are summaries from two recent cases:

Overcrowded Student Housing Fire in Allston, Massachusetts
Our attorneys represented a woman who was seriously injured in a 2013 fire in an illegal apartment in Allston, Massachusetts. More than a dozen college students were living at the home in violation of city zoning ordinances. Read about this case.

Students Injured in Escape from Quick-Spreading House Fire
Our attorneys represented one of two college students who were seriously injured a single-family home fire in Boston. One student suffered a brain injury when he jumped from a third-floor window to escape and landed on a concrete driveway. The other student broke her back and injured her ankle when she jumped off from the second floor. The case was settled at mediation. The case was reported by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly on May 29, 2014. Subscription required.

Continue reading

20141118_crosswalk.jpgThe mayor of Brockton has announced a plan to improve safety for those walking in the city. The city has seen an increase in pedestrian accidents, which have recently killed 8 pedestrians and injured 75 others. Seven of the eight pedestrian deaths have occurred since August 12.

Two victims were children, and in one case, police are still searching for the hit-and-run driver. In 2013, the city saw one fatal pedestrian accident.

Mayor Bill Carpenter proposed the safety plan on Monday, which draws on resources from a number of state and local agencies, including the Massachusetts State Police, Brockton Police, the city’s Board of Health, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Safe Routes Alliance and Brockton Area Transit.

His plan will focus on three areas: engineering, enforcement and education. Some of the measures still require approval from the city Finance Committee.

Educational Awareness Campaign. The city will launch a pedestrian safety awareness campaign to educate both drivers and pedestrians. One focus will be to reduce use of electronic devices and cell phones by everyone on the road. Public service announcements, video documentaries and other safety materials will be introduced to students in Brockton Public Schools.

Increased Walking Patrols. These will be expanded in high-traffic areas, to allow officers to provide pedestrians and cyclists with safety information when they put themselves in harm’s way.

Increased Traffic Patrols in High-Crash Areas. The Massachusetts State Police will work with Brockton to increase patrols in high traffic areas.

Scarecrow Patrol Cars. Brockton Police will deploy “scarecrow” cruisers at some dangerous intersections. These have no officers, but are meant to put drivers who do not know that on alert.

Clearing Sidewalks. The city’s Board of Health will conduct enforcement to make sure sidewalks are clear and can be safely used by pedestrians.

Traffic Signals. The city will consider adding pedestrian countdown features to the traffic signals on Belmont Street. At the same time, the Mass Department of Transportation is now conducting a review of traffic signals across the city.

Brockton is not the only community which has seen an increase in pedestrian accidents. Nationwide, fatal pedestrian accidents increased 6 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s most recent figures. More than 33,000 were killed or about one every two hours.

Cyclist accidents are also on the rise, with a 16 percent increase from 2010 to 2012, according to the Governors Highway Safety Administration.
Continue reading

20141111_airbag.jpgLong before the deaths and injuries, Takata knew its airbags were defective, according to two former employees of the company.

In fact, Takata knew about the defects as far back as 2004, the workers told The New York Times. The Japanese company learned one of its airbags exploded and sent metal debris spewing at a driver in Alabama, then began secret testing at its U.S. headquarters in Michigan. The testing was conducted outside normal work hours and was never disclosed until now. Three months into testing, employees began to theorize the problem was the welding on the airbag’s inflator canister, but the investigation was shut down and employees were instructed to destroy all testing data.

It took Takata four years to report the faulty airbags in a regulatory filing. In November 2008, the first Takata airbags were recalled.