Earlier this month, a former Fortune 500 executive was depressed and attempting suicide when his pickup truck crossed the Interstate 89 median and collided with an oncoming car, killing a pregnant woman and her fiance, a prosecutor said in court.
The use of the internet by sexual predators is an increasing problem as a registered sex offender is now facing new charges in Gilford.
Another tragic holiday season auto accident has taken the life of a well known and highly regarded former fire chief in Amherst, New Hampshire. The accident was a hit and run accident. The driver has turned himself in to authorities, and has been arraigned on charges of negligent homicide. It appears as though this is yet another tragic case of distracted driving, with the driver admitting to have been emailing on his phone at the time he struck and killed the pedestrian. He was arraigned at the Nashua District Court on Tuesday, and has been released on bail into the custody of his parents.
The tragic fatal auto accident which took the life of 30 year old Katie Hamilton in Hollis / Brookline, New Hampshire on Christmas Eve has brought us all a reminder that tragedies do not take holidays. The story was made all the more heartwrenching by the fact that Katie's father, Stephen Whitcomb, who is a volunteer firefighter, responded to the scene of the three car accident which took the life of his daughter.
On December 19, 2013, after 7 days of trial and 2 full days of deliberations, a twelve person Hillsborough County Superior Court jury sitting in Manchester, New Hampshire returned a verdict in favor of a former Bedford man who was raped while a patient in the adolescent mental health unit at the Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, NH in March of 2007. Cheshire Medical Center is affiliated with the Dartmouth Hitchcock Health System. The victim was represented by Attorney Peter E. Hutchins of Manchester, NH. The hospital was represented by the Sulloway & Hollis lawfirm of Concord, NH. The victim of the assault was 15 years old at the time, and was raped by his roommate on the last night of his 5 day inpatient admission at the hospital. The perpetrator, who had a history of violence, suicide attempts, sexually inappropriate conduct and who admitted to having been a sexual abuser, had just been admitted to the hospital that day. The perpetrator was 17 years old, and outweighed the plaintiff by 70 pounds. The plaintiff, now 21 years old, alleged that the hospital and its staff was negligent in placing the dangerous new patient in his room that night without performing additional fact finding on the perpetrator and his history of violent and sexually inappropriate conduct. The perpetrator had received psychotherapy previously, but the hospital failed to obtain those records or determine the nature and extent of that therapy. The perpetrator was also on probation at the time of his admission for attacking his father with both a car and a maul (ax / sledgehammer type tool). The plaintiff also alleged that the hospital violated the New Hampshire Patient's Bill of Rights, RSA 151:21, by failing to keep him free from "physical and sexual abuse." The hospital's primary defense at trial was that the rape did not occur, and that the victim was lying. The hospital further claimed it was not negligent, and that it was reasonable medical practice to have placed the perpetrator in the victim's room that night. The jury found that the assault did take place, and further found that the hospital was both negligent and had violated the patient's statutory rights. At trial, the victim plaintiff asked the jury for "closure and validation." Medical professionals testified that the victim had suffered from PTSD, nightmares, flashbacks and increased anxiety as a result of the attack. The victim disclosed the rape 5 months after the assault to a social worker / psychologist when he was brought back to the Cheshire Medcial Center emergency room by his mother for increasing rage and acting out. The victim testified he never planned to disclose the assault to anyone ever, however feared being readmitted to the mental health unit again due to what had occurred to him months before. The jury awarded the plaintiff $250,000.00 in compensatory damages. It is the hope of the plaintiff that the hospital and Dartmouth Hitchcock will abide by the verdict of the jury and promptly pay the judgment so that he can close this chapter of his life and move forward. The hospital, under New Hampshire law, has a right to appeal the verdict to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, however only on alleged errors in legal rulings made by the trial judge during the trial. Attorney Hutchins has represented over 200 victims of sexual abuse in claims and cases against institutional defendants in the last 10 years. The Sulloway firm is highly experienced in the defense of hospitals and doctors in medical malpractice cases. Attorney Hutchins was assisted by Attorney Donna-Marie Cote of Manchester during the trial. Three nurses testified during the trial, as did Dr. Joseph Bergman, head of the mental health department at Cheshire Medical Center. Each side produced testimony from two expert witnesses. The plaintiff along with his parents testified, as did the plaintiff's treating psychiatrist from the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester. The perpetrator did not testify at the trial.
It is winter in New Hampshire. Roads can be covered with snow and ice. When this happens, we witness what can often be a dramatic increase in winter related automobile accidents. The question may be if you sustain a personal injury, do I have a case? Just because you are struck in your motor vehicle and are injured, does not mean that you automatically have a case. It is necessary to prove that the person who hit you was legally at fault. This can be complicated by slippery roads, allowing the other driver to claim that his or her loss of control and the resulting accident was caused by the slippery conditions, and not negligence. In these cases, it is critically important to make sure the police are called to investigate the accident, and if you noticed driving on the part of the other driver that was negligent but not winter related, i.e., speeding, texting, swerving, etc., make sure the police officer is aware of that. Make sure your insurance company is aware of that. Take photos of the tire marks in the snow if possible. There is a strong chance that if you do not develop your case early and properly, you could lose due to the "slippery road" defense. If in doubt, contact a New Hampshire personal injury lawyer to assist you as early in the process as possible.
Robert Dellinger of Sunapee, NH has been criminal charged for a weekend auto accident on I-89 that resulted in the death of Vermont couple Amanda Murphy and Jason Timmons. Autopsy reports today disclosed that Ms. Murphy was 8 months pregnant at the time.
In addition to seeking criminal prosecution against the perpetrator, victims of sexual abuse in New Hampshire have the right to bring a civil case to obtain just compensation for their injuries. In New Hampshire, the statute of limitations for such claims is three years. However, if the victim is under the age of 18, they will typically have until their 30th birthday to bring a civil lawsuit against those responsible. Typically, the perpetrator of the sexual assault, rape or abuse does not possess personal assets sufficient to justify long and difficult civil litigation. Moreover, even if the perpetrator has insurance, such as a homeowners policy, such insurance will not provide coverage for intentional wrongful conduct such as sexual assault. The cases which carry the highest chances of a successful result are those brought against institutional defendants. This class of defendants include employers of the perpetrator, schools, day care centers, boy scout troops or camps, churches and religious organizations, agencies who provide services to children or disabled adults, and a variety of other companies or institutions who wrongfully employ or harbor perpetrators. Generally, in order to succeed in one of these cases, it is necessary to prove that the institution exercised a certain level of control over the perpetrator, i.e., hiring, training and retaining. It is also necessary to show that the institution knew or should have known of the propensity of the perpetrator to sexually abuse others. Finally, it is also typically necessary to show that the institution owed a duty of care to the victim - a duty to protect. These cases are always very emotional, and can be difficult to prove and to litigate. In a case where the allegations can be proven, however, and where the legal requirements of civil liability can be established, the filing of a civil action can provide the sexual abuse victim both with validation and a sense of closure, and also financial compensation from the responsible party for the terrible and life long impact of sexual abuse. A personal injury lawyer or attorney experienced in these cases and familiar with New Hampshire law can provide sound advice and counsel to a victim survivor of abuse about their potential right to seek civil justice.