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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
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Boston Firefighter Case Highlights Accountability Through Litigation

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As an organization of personal injury victims’ advocates, we know that tragedies occur every day. There is no way to foresee the future and prevent every tragedy from occurring, however we can learn from past mistakes and make changes in the way we behave and act to build a more promising future. A recent Boston Globe article tells the story of two firefighters that were killed battling a grease fire in a neighborhood restaurant. Gross negligence on the part of three parties resulted in a deadly amount of grease being backed up in the restaurant’s air ducts. Boston city ordinance calls for restaurant air ducts to be cleaned quarterly to prevent grease build-up that can potentially cause devastating fires. The workers at the restaurant, the restaurant’s landlord in charge of maintaining quality standards, and a professional cleaning service hired to clean the air ducts (they cleaned the stove and hood, but never looked at the air ducts) were all unable to hold themselves accountable and make sure that the air ducts were cleared of grease. Because of their negligence in this important safety matter, two Boston firefighters had to pay the ultimate price.

The families of the firefighters sued all 3 parties and received $2.2 million in a settlement. However, the effects of this lawsuit go far beyond compensating the firefighters’ families for their loss. Tougher city regulations have been passed to make sure that commercial kitchen cleaners pass a certification test and register with the fire department before they are allowed to work in city restaurants. This precaution will certainly lead to more qualified and knowledgeable cleaning services that hold themselves accountable for doing their job correctly.

The change in city ordinance due to this tragedy is a sobering reminder that the beneficial effects of lawsuits do not stop at those personally involved. As John Adams once said, "Representative government and trial by jury are the heart and lungs of liberty. Without them we have no other fortification against being ridden like horses, fleeced like sheep, worked like cattle, and fed and clothed like swine and hounds." The families of firefighters of Warren J. Payne and Paul J. Cahill were fleeced out of a lifetime of memories with their beloved. At least we can say that due to their demand for justice through litigation, the families of these firefighters put the wheels in motion for improving safety measures that hopefully will prevent another tragedy like this occurring due to gross negligence.

Lawsuit Financial Corporation understands the merits and long-lasting effects of proper and necessary litigation. Lawsuit funding fromLawsuit Financial provides interim financial assistance to those who seek compensation due to the negligence of others who, in turn, refuse to hold themselves accountable. If you feel that an interim cash advance would permit your client to avoid settlement, too soon and for too little, please give me a call to discuss.

2 Comments

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  1. Steve Lombardi says:
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    I like this blog post; it demonstrates the loss of life caused by businesses not doing their job to act on safety measures. Now that said, what it doesn’t show are how many other businesses do preventive maintenance and avoid more deaths. One death is too many, but it could be a lot worse if Massachusetts didn’t allow liability lawsuits. And that’s the point of having civil courts; it keeps things, but especially the business community civil and safe. Well written Mark.

  2. Mark Bello says:
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    Steve: Thanks for the positive comments; the important message is that, to the public, lawsuits are routinely reported as being about money and greed. However, at their core, negligence lawsuits are almost always about safety and safety violations. The threat of a lawsuit is a most effective deterrent to safety violations. It is tragic that the firefighters had to die, a lawsuit had to be filed, and an economic impact had to be felt before simple safety measures were taken. If corporate America is looking for real ‘tort reform’, a reform in the corporate culture that results in these types of tragedies is in order.