Massachusetts Appellate Court Upholds $20M Judgment in the Case of a Woman Run Down Inside a Chicopee Convenience Store

When you experience the loss of a loved one due to an accident, it is always devastating. If that accident occurred because someone else was negligent, the issues you may be facing multiply. In addition to your family issues, that negligence may create legal issues. The loss of your loved one undoubtedly did major damage to your emotional happiness, and it may also have done major damage to the financial stability of your family. For all of these processes, it is important to retain a skilled Massachusetts wrongful death attorney to represent you and ensure that your legal rights are protected.

Developing and presenting a persuasive case in a wrongful death action involves many types of evidence. A recent example was the case of a man named Albert, who sued a convenience store chain for the wrongful death of his wife, Kimmy. When the couple stopped at the store’s location in Chicopee, Kimmy went inside for coffee while Albert parked the vehicle. As the woman began to enter the store, an 81-year-old man, who may have had a stroke, raced his Ford Explorer through the parking lot and into the façade of the store at more than 55 mph. A store worker was hurt, and Kimmy was killed.

Albert sued the convenience store chain for Kimmy’s wrongful death. In a wrongful death case like this, you can pursue your case under a premises liability theory. This means that, much as with a trip-and-fall or slip-and-fall accident that causes injuries, you can establish the property owner’s liability by showing that there was a dangerous condition present on the property, that the property owner knew or reasonably should have known about the hazard, that the property owner failed to fix the problem, and that this unresolved hazard caused the victim’s injuries.

In this case, the danger that Albert alleged was the risk of vehicles crashing into the store. Albert’s case alleged that the chain of convenience stores had experienced hundreds of instances in which vehicles had struck its stores. That track record was enough to put the store on notice of the risk, and it should have done something to protect customers like Kimmy, including “installing bollards or other protective barriers along the walkway and by closing off and erecting barriers at the apex entrance to the parking lot.” By doing nothing, the store was liable for the fatal injuries that occurred in this case.

The jury ruled in favor of Albert, awarding $32 million in damages, which was later reduced to $20 million. Securing a full and fair award of compensation in a wrongful death case, especially if that amount is very large, can involve presenting many types of evidence to the jury. In this case, Albert had proof of what Kimmy’s loss meant both from a personal perspective and from a financial one. The plaintiff’s case included evidence that the spouses and their 14-year-old child shared a very close bond, doing many activities from camping to golfing to nightly walks together. Additionally, Kimmy worked full-time, earning $79,000 per year.

The judgment in favor of Albert was affirmed on appeal, since the appeals court concluded that Albert had given the jury ample evidence from which it could reasonably conclude that the convenience store was both negligent and grossly negligent. The centerpiece of the store’s defense was that the crash was not foreseeable, but the court explained that making decisions about foreseeability is almost always the sole duty of the jury, which is another reminder about why it is so important to ensure that you have a strong case ready for trial.

If you have lost a loved one in an accident that was due to someone else’s negligence, you need someone who knows how to help you get the results you need in order to address the expenses that have piled up. Skilled Plymouth County wrongful death lawyer Michael S. Mehrmann has spent many years effectively representing people from across Plymouth County, including in Kingston, Plymouth, Marshfield, Hanson, Carver, Pembroke, and Duxbury. To find out more about how we can help you, call (781) 585-3911 or contact us online.