Tort, Personal Injury, Adult with Disabilities - $200,000 Settlement

Injuries alleged: broken hip, several broken ribs, broken leg and ankle

Tried before judge or jury (or mediation): Mediation

Special Damages: broken hip, several broken ribs, broken leg and ankle including medical bills in excess of $153,000.

Amount (specify award or settlement): full statutory amount $100,000 and aggregate amount of $100,000.

Date (of verdict or settlement):

Highest Offer: $200,000.00

Attorney for plaintiff(s) and city of office: Kenneth I. Kolpan
Law Office of Kenneth I. Kolpan, P.C.
100 Summer Street
Boston, Ma. 02110

Other useful information:

On May 21, 2006, the plaintiff, an adult with disabilities, was a resident in a group home operated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. On the day of the incident, the group home's fire alarm sounded and staff evacuated residents including the plaintiff to a grassy area adjacent to a parking lot even though the grassy area was not the designated safety evacuation area in the home's Evacuation Plan. (It was later determined to be a false alarm.)

After placing the plaintiff, who was in a wheelchair, in the grassy area, a staff member started to move a State van to make room for the Fire Department, which was on its way. The staff member placed the van in drive instead of reverse and ran over the plaintiff dragging her and her wheelchair. Plaintiff became pinned under the van. The Fire Department jacked up the van to remove the plaintiff.

The plaintiff sustained a broken hip, several broken ribs, broken leg and ankle. Plaintiff was hospitalized for over a month and incurred medical bills more than $153,000.

Suit was brought under the Massachusetts Torts Claims Act (MTCA), M.G.L. c. 258 s. 1 et seq. Under MTCA, each plaintiff’s claim is limited to $100,000 no matter how many governmental employees are involved.  Attorney Kolpan filed suit on behalf of the injured man and his parents.

Plaintiffs alleged that the State's employee negligently violated the group home's Safety Evacuation Plan in evacuating the plaintiff to an unsafe area immediately adjacent to where the home parked the State's vans. Under Massachusetts law, a violation of a policy or plan, can be evidence of defendant’s negligence. 

Plaintiffs further claimed that, when the Fire Department arrived, a group staff started up the van and negligently drove it forward over the plaintiff and another resident.

Suit was brought under MTCA on behalf of the adult disabled plaintiff and her two parents, who were her co-guardians. The parents' loss of consortium claims (under c. 258) were brought pursuant to M.G.L. 231 s. 85X, which required the parents to prove that their adult daughter was financial dependent upon her parents even though she was a longtime client of the State receiving governmental benefits at the time of the incident. Plaintiffs' proved that their additional financial support was necessary to maintain their daughter's health and wellbeing.

After a full day's mediation, the daughter's claim was settled for the full statutory amount ($100,000) and the parents’ loss of consortium claims were settled in the aggregate amount of $100,000.