Law Office of Isaac J. Mass -- Greenfield, Massachusuetts
What do you do when you are at a house party and you are injured by another guest?  It depends, sometimes the homeowner is liable and their homeowners’ policy will cover the damages.  If the hosts know (or should know) that an activity is happening in their home and that guests or passersby could be hurt, they have a duty to take action.

In 2010, the court found that homeowners who hosted a softball game using the homeowners’ equipment owed a duty of care to persons seated nearby. “Because they owned the softball equipment, they held the right to control its use . . . . The hosts were present and aware that their equipment was being used, and (a rational fact finder could conclude) aware that its use posed a risk of injury to guests seated on the porch.” Judge v. Carrai, 77 Mass. App. Ct. 803, 808, review denied, 458 Mass. 1111 (2010).

On the other hand, if the home owner does not know, he or she has no duty to take affirmative steps to
protect someone against dangerous or unlawful acts of third persons.  In Luoni v. Berube, 431 Mass.
729, 731–32 (2000).
Landowners were not liable to a guest for injuries from fireworks brought to a party and set off by other guests without the hosts’ permission.

If you were injured at someone’s house party and want advice on bringing a claim against their policy, contact the Law Office of Isaac J. Mass for a free consultation.

In Massachusetts, the Commonwealth has established strict firearm storage statutes and regulations.  If someone does not follow those requirements and their weapon is stolen and then used in a shooting.  The firearms original owner or the owner of the property where the firearm was stored may be liable.

That is what happened in Jupin v. Kask, 447 Mass. 141, 142 (2006).  The defendant shared her home with a gun collector who kept his guns in a cabinet. The gun collector’s son, who had a history of violence and mental instability, had a key to the house and was given full access to the property.  The son removed screws from the lock on the cabinet, stole a gun, and used it to shoot a police officer. The court held that the theft and subsequent use of the gun were foreseeable and that, as a matter of public policy, “there is a significant social benefit to be realized by recognizing a duty of the person in control of the premises to exercise due care with regard to the storage of guns on the premises, particularly with respect to those who have been granted regular access to it.” Jupin v. Kask, 447 Mass. at 153.

If you or a love one has been injured by a stolen firearm, you may have a claim against the original owner.  Each case is very fact dependent.  For a free consultation contact the law office of Isaac J. Mass

_ No Premises Liability for Plaintiff’s “foolhardy” Actions

Today, the Court of Appeals released a slip opinion in Dos Santos v. Coleta, No. 10-P02184, 2011. Kantrowitz, J.

 In this case a landlord left both a two foot deep inflatable pool and an adjacent three foot high trampoline to be used by family and friends after his move out of state in the summer of 2005.  The friends and family regularly used both jumping (yes you guessed it) from the trampoline into the pool. 

Now this pool had warnings in six languages including the plaintiff’s native Portuguese as well as pictographs warning not to jump or dive.  This did not stop the plaintiff who observed many others jumping safely.  It was only a matter of time until the plaintiff made an unlucky dive and broke his neck which he did on video tape.  In the end he had $728,702 in medical bills and permanent injuries.

In this case the jury said the defendant was not liable.  The jury relied on the judge’s instructions that:
“under our law of premises liability, the standard for determining whether a landowner is relieved of a duty to warn is whether the dangerous condition complained of would be obvious to a person of average intelligence, that is, a visitor with ordinary perception and judgment exercising reasonable care for his own safety. That many people might engage in objectively hazardous conduct on the basis of a belief that it can be done safely does not affect our analysis of a defendant's duty of care under this standard if, in light of the obvious risks entailed by the activity, the belief in question, however prevalent it may be, must nonetheless fairly be judged unreasonable, if not foolhardy."

The appeals court agreed.  Despite the warning of the court inPapadopoulos v. Target Corp., 457 Mass. 368, 379-380 (2010), that an “open and obvious danger” did not always eliminate the duty to warn, the court of appeals found no duty to warn here.  They found that the court Papadopoulos employed a cost benefit analysis.  i.e. crossing ice to get to your car.  The appeals court found no benefit in the amusement of jumping from a trampoline into a pool and thus no duty to war.  Interestingly enough, there was no discussion of whether the warnings on the pool were adequate. 


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