Court Explains the Doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquitor in Massachusetts

Typically, a plaintiff alleging a defendant should be deemed liable for negligence under Massachusetts law must offer evidence that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty and that it breached the duty, thereby causing the plaintiff to suffer harm. Under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor, however, a jury can infer the negligence of the defendant without actual proof of the elements. Recently, a court discussed the elements of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor in a case in which the plaintiff sought damages from a restaurant after the chair he was sitting in collapsed. If you were hurt in an accident, it is smart to talk to a Cape Cod personal injury attorney about your possible claims.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff was eating lunch at the defendant’s restaurant when the chair he was sitting in collapsed. He suffered injuries in the fall and subsequently brought a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging its negligence caused his harm. After discovery was complete, the defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff had not offered evidence of a breach of a duty owed or causation as required to demonstrate negligence under Massachusetts law. The court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed, arguing that the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor would allow the jury to infer the negligence of the defendant.

Res Ipsa Loquitor in Massachusetts

The appellate court agreed with the plaintiff and reversed the trial court ruling. Ultimately, the court found that the defendant clearly owed the plaintiff, who was a business invitee, the duty to exercise reasonable care. This included, among other things, the duty included the obligation to ensure that the seat the plaintiff sat on was in a reasonably safe condition. The appellate court also found that the evidence readily allowed for the inference that the chair offered to the plaintiff was defective.

In doing so, it explained that the doctrine of res ipsa loquitor allows the factfinder to draw an inference of negligence despite the fact that the specific cause of an accident has not been identified. The appellate court elaborated that the doctrine applies when the accident in question is the type of incident that does not typically happen absent some degree of negligence. Further, in order for a plaintiff to successfully argue that the doctrine applies, they must sufficiently eliminate other feasible explanations of the accident.

Contact a Knowledgeable Cape Cod Attorney

Most accidents are the result of negligence, and parties that recklessly cause other people to suffer harm can often be held accountable. If you sustained injuries in an incident brought on by carelessness, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible. The knowledgeable personal injury lawyers of The Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, can advise you of your rights and help you to pursue the best legal result available under the facts of your case.  You can contact us via our online form or by calling us at 888-262-6664 to set up a conference.

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