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Lawsuits filed in deadly Hingham Apple Store crash; tragedy called ‘preventable’

Worker used a tow truck to remove a damaged SUV from inside an Apple Store on Nov. 21 in Hingham.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

The devastating crash at a Hingham Apple Store last week that killed one person and injured at least 19 others was “100 percent preventable,” a lawyer for some of the victims said Tuesday in announcing a lawsuit against Apple, the driver of the SUV that plowed into the store, and the developer and owners of the shopping plaza.

“They simply needed to place a few barriers, or bollards, between the parking lot traffic, which was busy holiday traffic, and the public,” Boston attorney Douglas K. Sheff said at an afternoon news conference.

Sheff’s office filed civil lawsuits Tuesday in Middlesex Superior Court on behalf of Matthew Timberger, a Falmouth man who was badly hurt in the crash; Timberger’s wife and children; Stephen Parrish, a Plympton man who suffered a traumatic brain injury; and Parrish’s spouse.

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The complaints name Apple, SUV driver Bradley Rein, and Newton-based WS Development and affiliated companies as defendants. Spokespeople for Apple and WS Development didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday. A lawyer for Rein, who is facing criminal charges in connection with the crash, also couldn’t immediately be reached.

Authorities say Rein drove his SUV through the store’s front glass façade at a high rate of speed on the morning of Nov. 21, killing New Jersey resident Kevin Bradley, 65, an employee of GMS Construction who was helping with construction work at the store, and injuring at least 19 other people who were rushed to hospitals in Weymouth and Boston.

Rein told investigators his foot became stuck on the accelerator and he wasn’t able to hit the brake in time, court records show.

“On the date in question, there were not any bollards or other traffic barriers or protective devices between the public parking area, the sidewalk in front of the Apple Store, and the outside glass front of the Apple Store itself,” the civil complaint read. “On the date in question, there were not any bollards or other traffic barriers or protective devices on the inside of the glass front of the Apple Store itself.”

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Apple and the owner of the shopping plaza should have known better, the suit alleged.

“At all relevant times, [WS Development and Apple Inc.] knew or should have known of the risk of a motor vehicle driving into and/or through the glass front of the Apple Store, whether negligently, recklessly, or intentionally,” the complaint alleged.

Timberger suffered a number injuries, including a “fracture in the lower extremity requiring surgical rod placement, fracture in the upper extremity, which will require surgery, multiple and complex rib fractures, paradoxical chest wall movement and pulmonary embolis,” the lawsuit said.

Bollards, short vertical posts used as a protective perimeter, were placed outside the store following the crash, according to published reports.

Asked Tuesday if that suggests the defendants knew barriers should have been installed before the crash, Sheff said, “I do,” citing the presence of bollards at other Apple Stores and at “other locations, we believe, owned by the same developers.”

On Friday, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Deirdre O’Brien, the company’s senior vice president of retail and people, met with some of the crash survivors at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, according to the hospital.

Sheff said Cook had not visited his clients in the hospital.

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“I’ll just say that our clients were hospitalized and were expecting a level of privacy for that,” he said.

Three patients remained at South Shore Hospital as of Tuesday, a spokesperson said, adding that all three were stable.

Both lawsuits are seeking unspecified financial damages.

“So why [were there] no barriers here, in Hingham, at the Apple Store” at the time of the crash, Sheff said. “Well that is going to be what this case is about. But in any event, no matter what, for just a few dollars, a couple of barriers could have easily prevented this entire tragedy.”


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.