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Case Conclusion Date: 05.12.2009

Practice Area: Personal Injury

Outcome: $600,000. The Legal Maximum in Massachusetts

Description: On Labor Day in 2007, an 11-year-old boy and his 8-year-old brother were playing on the grounds of the grammar school they attended, which was a short walk from their home. Located on the open grounds of the school was a large, three-sided brick structure, designed as a storage enclosure for two trash dumpsters. A 1,600-pound steel gate, which at one time guarded the entrance to the dumpster enclosure, had been removed several years earlier to provide easier access for sanitation trucks. After being removed, the steel gate apparently had been placed in a leaning position against one of the interior walls of the enclosure and was not otherwise secured. While the boys were playing in the empty enclosure, the steel gate fell. The older boy was killed and his younger brother suffered serious crush injuries. The defendant, the city in which the boys lived and attended the school, acknowledged leaving the unsecured gate in a precarious state for several years in an area of the yard to which children had easy access and likely would be attracted. The total settlement represented the maximum damages to which the plaintiffs were legally entitled to recover against a municipal defendant pursuant to G.L.c. 258, §2.

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