Articles Tagged with Wrongful Death

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1334532_48594781As the shades go up and windows open to begin the annual task of spring cleaning, many individuals face only the trouble of allergies and dust mites as a hindrance to this accomplishment.  This was not the case for Geraldine Moran.  As she began her annual spring cleaning routine in 2005, she used a six foot tall ladder to accomplish her mission.  As she was cleaning, Ms. Moran fell and broke several ribs.  She was immediately taken to, what was previously known as, Jordan Hospital in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  Doctors evaluated Ms. Moran and made the decision to transport her to Massachusetts General Hospital as that facility would seemingly have the appropriate staff, equipment, and facilities to help treat Ms. Moran.

Geraldine Moran subsequently presented to Massachusetts General Hospital for her injuries.  While at the hospital, the doctors evaluated Ms. Moran and determined that she cracked her ribs in an unusual manner.  One rib in particular was noted as being cracked in such a way that it’s fine tip was close to Ms. Moran’s aorta.  The aorta is the largest artery in the body which stems from the left ventricle of the heart.  This is vital to the human body as it distributes oxygenated blood to all parts of the body.  Hospital staff did not treat Ms. Moran immediately.  Instead, she was kept overnight for evaluation and was given an epidural for pain. It was also noted that the time of her stay at MGH, she had a persistent cough.  At some point at night or in the early morning hours, the cracked rib with a razor point edge punctured the balloon like aorta during a coughing fit.  Ms. Moran went into cardiac arrest in the early morning hours.  She was pronounced dead at 9:49 am.  An autopsy revealed a 1 centimeter hole in her aorta by the jagged edge of her broken rib.  She was 62 at the time of her death and left three children behind. Continue reading →

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teamwork-2-1237611-mStephanie Moulton was employed by a residential treatment counselor at North Suffolk Mental health Association, Inc. in Chelsea, Massachusetts. The organization contracted with the Commonwealth to provide various mental health services to individuals affiliated with the Department of Mental Heath and the Department of Correction. On January 20, 2011, while at the organization’s treatment facility in Revere, Ms. Moulton was brutually assaulted by one of the facility’s residents. As a result of the vicious attack she sustained, Ms. Moulton was taken to the hospital where she ultimately succumbed to death. After her passing, the Estate of Stephanie Moulton brought suit against the director of the organization, the patient-tortfeasor, two consultants that admitted the patient, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The Estate brought claims against the Defendants under the Wrongful Death statute in Massachusetts. The complaint alleged that the patient-tortfeasor had a history of convictions and violent crimes as well as mental health history showcasing a violent propensity toward others. The complaint further alleged that counselors, such as Ms. Moulton, were made unaware of the history of patients such as the tortfeasor, and were therefore unequipped to deal with such patients. The complaint alleges that if the director defendants had allowed or required a proper examination of prospective clients, and provided access to information in the possession of referring agencies indicating prospective clients’ criminal histories and previous violent tendencies, the patient-tortfeasor would not have been deemed an appropriate client for admission to North Suffolk’s Revere facility. Further, had North Suffolk employees at that facility been given information about clients’ violent backgrounds, and had they been provided adequate training, staffing, and equipment for the appropriate handling of clients with violent criminal histories and violent tendencies, the Ms. Moulton would not have been left alone with patient and she accordingly would not have been killed.  Continue reading →

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old-cemetery-1239425-mThe loss of a friend, family member, or significant other can have a devastating impact on the individuals in that person’s life. While any loss is a tragic and unfortunate event, in certain situations, the death of the beloved (or in legal terminology, “the decedent”) is due to the actions or inactions of another person. As a result, the Massachusetts legislature enacted Massachusetts General Law Chapter 229– the Wrongful Death Statute. The statute was originally enacted in 1840 by the legislature, but subsequently underwent a great deal of change due to a 1973 amendment to the law. The resulting law establishes recovery for the statutory beneficiaries of the decedent by measuring the loss of the family member to the beneficiaries.

Under § 2 of the law: A person who…

  1. by his negligence causes the death of a person, or
  2. by willful, wanton or reckless act causes the death of a person under such circumstances that the deceased could have recovered damages for personal injuries if his death had not resulted, or
  3. operates a common carrier of passengers and by his negligence causes the death of a passenger, or
  4. operates a common carrier of passengers and by his willful, wanton or reckless act causes the death of a passenger under such circumstances that the deceased could have recovered damages for personal injuries if his death had not resulted, or
  5. is responsible for a breach of warranty arising under Article 2 of chapter one hundred and six which results in injury to a person that causes death, shall be liable in damages.

If a person dies due to the negligence of another, the above referenced statute is applicable. However, not just anyone can step into the shoes of the decedent to pursue a claim against a responsible person or organization. Continue reading →