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Ferragamo v. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

481 N.E.2d 477 (1985)

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Ferragamo v. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

481 N.E.2d 477 (1985)

Facts

Paul Ferragamo (plaintiff) purchased eight used trolley cars from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) (defendant). MBTA had invited Paul to bid on the eight trolley cars. MBTA sold most of its trolley cars for scrap. MBTA had operated and repaired the trolley cars for 25 years before selling them to Paul. MBTA was responsible for the original design and specifications of the trolley cars. Michael Ferragamo, Paul’s brother, was enlisted to dismantle the trolley cards. One of the trolley cars, Car No. 3298, had been involved in a fire and the car was covered with a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) compound. Many people had been treated for exposure to PVC fumes after the fire, and the car was still covered in plastic drippings at the time of Paul’s purchase. However, MBTA made no mention of the PVC exposure. Michael started his process of dismantling Car No. 3298, scraping off the plastic drippings. Michael then used an acetylene torch to cut through the remaining plastic. Michael wore a dust mask only intermittently during this work. As the week passed, Michael experienced shortness of breath and a sore throat. Eventually, Michael suffered respiratory distress and was transported to a hospital, where he died of acute respiratory failure. Paul filed an action with four counts. Two counts were for wrongful death due to negligence (counts I and III) and two counts were for damages based on breach of warranty (counts II and IV). The jury returned verdicts for Paul on all four counts. MBTA made a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The court granted MBTA’s motion as to the counts based on breach of warranty. Paul Ferragamo and MBTA both appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Abrams, J.)

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