Appeals Court Finds No Reason to Set Aside Defense Verdict in Massachusetts Woman’s Suit Claiming She Was Injured By Defendant’s Opening of Car Door

Most Cape Cod automobile accident and other personal injury cases are settled outside of court. In most situations, the parties are eventually able to reach an agreement concerning issues like liability and the damages to which the plaintiff is entitled for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost earnings, and the like.

Some cases, however, cannot be settled and must proceed to trial. It is not unusual for the party that finds himself or herself on the losing end of the jury’s verdict to appeal from the trial court’s decision. However, having a entry of judgment upon a jury’s verdict set aside on appeal can be a difficult task.

Facts of the Case

In a recent (unreported) case, the plaintiff was a woman who claimed that she sustained serious personal injuries as a result of an accident that was allegedly caused by the defendant’s lack of reasonable care in exiting his vehicle. The case was tried to a jury and resulted in a defense verdict. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the trial court judge mishandled his “gatekeeper function” with regard to an expert witness called by the defendant and/or that the plaintiff was deprived of a fair trial.

The Court’s Ruling

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the trial court’s entry of judgment on the jury’s verdict. The plaintiff argued that the trial court judge should have sua sponte inquired into the reliability of the testimony of the defendant’s expert witness as well as potential conflicts of interest. The appellate court disagreed, holding that a Massachusetts trial judge has no independent duty to investigate these matters. The plaintiff, having fail to request that the trial judge inquire into these issues, was deemed to have waived any argument on appeal regarding the judge’s actions. The court of appeals also noted that the jury ultimately decided that the defendant was not negligent and, thus, any error with regard to the expert’s testimony regarding the plaintiff’s physical injuries would not assist the plaintiff on appeal.

The court of appeals likewise found no merit to the plaintiff’s argument that the trial court’s decision to end the second day’s trial proceedings at 1 p.m. resulted in an unfair trial. Although the plaintiff insisted that this unfairly highlighted a certain witness’s testimony, the court of appeals noted that the trial court was merely adhering to its regular schedule and the plaintiff made no complaint about the matter at trial.

Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a Cape Cod Injury Lawyer

Speaking to a seasoned Cape Cod car accident lawyer is crucial for those who have been hurt by others’ negligence. Getting a case ready for trial takes a great deal of time, skill, and effort, and a failure to prepare adequately can be very costly. If you need to schedule an appointment with a member of our team, call us at 888-262-6664. There is no charge for the call or the appointment, and, in most personal injury cases, we do not collect an attorney fee until the case is settled or a favorable judgment is entered.

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