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Wrongful Death Lawsuit: Boston Law Professor Dies After Ignoring Warning


A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against the state after a Boston law professor fell through a stairwell that had been cordoned off with caution tape. The professor apparently ignored the warnings to ascend the rusted staircase anyway. He plunged to his death, and now his widow has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the University for allowing the stairwell to remain accessible to the public. The university did, however, block off the stairwell and caution the public that it was dangerous.

Now, a question of whether the university is still (at least partially) responsible for the professor’s death will need to be determined by the court.

At the time of his death, the stairs were fenced off, so the plaintiff would have had to move the fencing to access the stairwell. Additionally, there was a warning sign stating that the stairs were unsafe. After the death, which was ruled an accident, the university tore down the stairs.

Who is responsible for the death? 

Premises liability lawsuits are filed on a theory of negligence. Negligence in terms of premises liability means that the owner left a dangerous condition where the public could be injured by it. In this case, the university is accused of not doing enough to remove the dangerous stairwell or deny public access. The university had a fair warning that the stairwell was dangerous and put off tearing it down while they placed up a fence and a warning sign.

The professor, on the other hand, contributed to his own death by ignoring the warning sign and accessing the stairs despite the fact that they had been shut down.

A jury will be asked to decide whether or not the university contributed a compensable amount of liability to the lawsuit. In Florida, even if the jury found the defendant only 1% liable for his death, the plaintiff may be able to recover 1% of their overall damages. A finding of 25% liability would come to $250,000 in a case where a finding of $1 million in damages is assessed. So that is still a lot of money.

In wrongful death cases, families are left without the income provided by their loved one. The family is made whole when the defendant helps the victims regain some of the income they lost when their loved one died.

Nonetheless, it will be hard for a lot of jurors to overcome the notion that an attorney unlawfully accessed a condemned stairwell despite warnings and foreknowledge. They may assume that the plaintiff took on the risk entirely when he dislodged the fencing to access the stairwell. Most jurors, while perhaps sympathizing with the family, will not understand why the professor placed his life in danger like that. Nonetheless, the argument is permissible under the law since the property owner has a duty of care to remedy dangerous conditions.

Talk to a Miami Personal Injury Lawyer Today 

Payer Law files premises liability claims against proprietors who expose the public to dangers. If you’ve been injured, call our Miami personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.


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