Settlements & Verdicts 2013

City Man Stabbed in 2010 Teamworks Brawl Receives $325,000 Settlement Against The Somerset Club

FALL RIVER – 10/29 /13 The final legal chapter has been written in the case of a Fall River resident stabbed at Teamworks in Somerset in an incident that occurred three years ago. The series of events was reported upon extensively by the Herald News.

James Hilario of Fall River was stabbed in June of 2010 at Teamworks when a fight broke out between two flag football teams from Fall River and Taunton. In fact, it was eight minutes before the end of the game that the 20-person brawl began.

Justin Farland, a member of the Taunton Terror team, came off the sidelines and stabbed Hilario and Steve Rocha both of Fall River. Both Hilario and Rocha were hospitalized.

The teams competed at the 50,000 square-foot regional facility in Somerset, which is designed for various indoor sports and recreational programs.

Shortly thereafter, Hilario retained Fall River attorney Brian Cunha, who eventually brought a lawsuit in Superior Court against Teamworks. Cunha announced this week that a settlement had been reached in the case in the amount $325,000, Cunha said. The result for Hilario was achieved on the eve of trial.

"The lawsuit alleged that Teamworks was negligent for allowing the attack to take place as the Taunton team members had made a series of violent threats against the Fall River Beavers' team members who had communicated this to the management of Teamworks," Cunha noted.
"Unbeknownst to plaintiff James Hilario or his teammates, members of the Taunton Terrors had also made additional threats against the referees and players on other teams, who had also warned the management at Teamworks about these threats."

"Despite these developments, Teamworks took no action against the Taunton team or its members," Cunha said.

"Specifically, the legal complaint was based on the theory that a landowner owes a reasonable duty of care to guard against the wrongful and even criminal acts of third parties, which are foreseeable," Cunha added.
"We maintained that as a direct result of the negligence of Teamworks, James Hilario sustained severe injuries, physical pain, mental suffering, loss of earnings and medical expenses," Cunha said.

"We were well-prepared for trial and are very pleased with the result. We are also relieved that James has made a speedy recovery," Cunha said, adding: "Hopefully, this case will serve in a broader sense as a serious reminder to business owners that they have a legal duty to their patrons to provide proper security measures and policies at their properties."

In April of 2011 the Herald News reported that Justin Farland received a five- to six-year prison sentence after a Superior Court jury found him guilty of charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon — causing substantial injury.
Brian Cunha & Associates, a regional personal injury law firm, is headquartered in Fall River.

Justin Farland given 5-6 year sentence in Fall River-Taunton flag football brawl.

Justin Farland scored a five- to six-year prison sentence after a jury recently found him guilty of stabbing two men in a brawl that broke out during a flag football game.

Thu Apr 28 2011 16:18:01 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)

Fall River man stabbed in Teamworks brawl files suit against Somerset athletic club, suspect

One of the men stabbed at Teamworks in June is suing the club and one of the suspects in Superior Court, claiming the facility's negligence allowed for the attack.

Fri Sep 10 2010 03:36:57 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)

Two arrests made in Somerset stabbing

Police Chief Joseph Ferreira said Wednesday a man and a woman were arrested in relation to a Monday night stabbing that left two men hospitalized. Ferreira said the pair, who he would not identify, were taken into custody just before 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Thu Jun 17 2010 00:00:00 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)

Somerset police ID two arrested in connection with flag football stabbing

A man accused of attempted murder is said to have handed off the knife he used to a female accomplice and both were arrested Wednesday night and charged in a double stabbing that took place Monday night at Teamworks, an indoor sports facility at 732 Lees River Ave.

Fri Jun 18 2010 00:00:00 GMT-0400 (Eastern Daylight Time)

NEW BEDFORD, March 25, 2013 – JURY VERDICT – $65,000 – Icy road car crash; Unfair Settlement Claims – consumer protection violation claims – Unfair settlements practices alleged against insurance company

On Monday, a 12 person jury in New Bedford awarded $65,000.00, which with interest amounted to almost $90,000.00, to Madeline Brulotte, 60, of New Bedford, MA, who was seriously injured in a multi-car accident that occurred in February 2010 on Stevens Road in Swansea, MA.

Driver Brulotte, who was hospitalized with fractures to her nose and ankle, brought claims against defendant motorists Philip Lussier, 47, and Jennifer Lizotte, 19. Lussier crashed head-on into Brulotte, totaling her car, shortly after Lizotte had slid off the road and spun out. Lussier claimed that he attempted to avoid Lizotte and in doing so lost control of his vehicle and struck the Plaintiff. Both defendants argued the accident was unavoidable, and attributed their loss of control of their vehicles to slush and ice on the roadway.

The jury found both defendants negligent, but found that Lizotte's negligence was not a substantial contributing cause of the plaintiffs' injuries as she claimed, and the jury believed that she had spun out several minutes prior to the arrival of Lussier at the scene.Attorney Brian Cunha, who represented Brulotte, stated "the jury soundly rejected the Defendants' claims that the icy conditions were the cause of the accident. According to Attorney Brian Cunha, in Massachusetts, the law clearly requires that drivers of automobiles have a duty to adjust their speed and care in driving in snowy or icy conditions so as to avoid the kind of accident that occurred here."

Attorney Brian Cunha also brought a claim under the Massachusetts consumer protection statute directly against Commerce Insurance company who insured Lussier. This claim is still pending. Brian Cunha asserts that the insurer violated a seldom-used Massachusetts law, the Unfair Claims Settlement Act, which requires insurance companies, in cases in which liability and injuries are clear, to enter into good faith settlement negotiations prior to trial in an attempt to settle the case with persons who are injured as a result of their insureds' negligence. Here, Brian Cunha states, more than 3 years after the accident, "the offer prior to trial to settle the case was $1,200.00, which is a clear violation of the law where, as here, the liability and damages should have been abundantly clear to the Defendants' insurance company." If successful Ms. Brulotte may recover as much as three times the amount of the verdict and attorneys fees directly against Commerce Insurance Company who insured Lussier.

NEW BEDFORD, January 11, 2013 – JURY VERDICT:
Garant v. Labor Advantage Workers Union $534,686.00.

On Friday, January 11, 2013, a 12-man, New Bedford jury awarded David Garant, 44, $350,000, which with interest amounted to $534,686, in a civil claim against the Labor Advantage Workers Union, Local 254, based on Mr. Garant's claim that the Union breached its duty to fairly represent him as a result of his termination by Jack Sisson, the Highway Superintendent for the Town of Westport in March, 2007.

The case arose as a result of the failure of the Union to file a grievance on Garant's behalf after he had been terminated by Sisson. Sisson alleged that Garant was fired as a result of his failure to report to him that his license had been suspended for failure to pay a $35 fine for a seatbelt violation in Connecticut. However, the evidence at trial was that Garant was not fired for that reason, but as a result of personal disagreements with Garant rather than the license issue as others members of the Highway Department were operating highway equipment without the proper licenses with full knowledge by Sisson who were not terminated.

Because the Union failed to file a grievance on his behalf, Garant was required to retain his own attorney, Brian Cunha, at his own expense, to press his claim against Sisson and the Town of Westport, without the help of the Union that Garant claimed was obligated under the union contract to represent him in his grievance. Garant was subsequently reinstated to his position as an employee of the Highway Department in July, 2007, however, Sisson refused to reinstate Garant who was required to work as a janitor in the Town Hall, rather than in the Highway Department, for which he was originally hired.

Garant, through his attorney, Brian R. Cunha, from Brian Cunha & Associates, filed suit against the Town of Westport, Sisson, and the Union. In 2009, Garant, through his attorney, Brian R. Cunha, reached a settlement against the Town of Westport and Sisson in the amount of $50,000; however, the claim against the Union remained.

Garant claimed that as a result of the failure of the Union to file a grievance on his behalf, he lost his laborer/trucking job with the Town of Westport, from which he hoped to retire, all of his medical benefits and his pension.

According to Cunha, "the jury obviously agreed with Mr. Garant that unions are obligated to represent its members vigorously, without discrimination, and in good faith, which the Union failed to do." Cunha further stated, "This verdict fairly compensates Mr. Garant for the loss of a job in which he planned to retire and to provide for his wife and two children. It also represents and end, at least as to Mr. Garant, to the seemingly never-ending battle between Jack Sisson, the Highway Superintendent, the Town of Westport, and its Union."