In order to obtain a jury verdict in a negligence case, including a case arising from an accident at an amusement park, fair, or carnival, the plaintiff must prove not only that the defendant owed him or her a duty of care and breached that duty, but also that the defendant’s breach of duty was the cause of the damages complained of by the plaintiff.
Recently, an appellate court in Massachusetts reviewed a jury’s determination that the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit had failed to prove the issue of proximate cause in her case seeking compensation for injuries sustained in a bounce house ride.
Facts of the Case
In the recent (unreported) case of Wright v. Reithoffer Shows, Inc., the plaintiff was a woman who was allegedly injured on a ride at the Brockton Fair. She filed suit against the defendant carnival operator, seeking compensation for injuries to her ankle. The case was tried to a jury, which returned a verdict for the defendant after determining that, although the defendant was negligent, its negligence was not a substantial contributing cause of the plaintiff’s injury.
The plaintiff filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or, alternatively, for a new trial. The trial court denied the plaintiff’s motion, and she appealed.
Decision of the Appeals Court
The Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the lower court’s judgment in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff argued on appeal that certain uncorrected errors in the deposition of the defendant’s designated representative substantially interfered with her ability to prepare and present her case, but the appellate court disagreed. Although the trial court judge did not explicitly rule on the issue presented by the plaintiff on appeal, the court found that the judge implicitly concluded that the defendant’s alleged misconduct did not substantially interfere with the plaintiff’s case.
According to the appellate court, any errors contained in the representative’s deposition were addressed prior to trial. In so holding, the court noted that the plaintiff not only had the correct information well before trial (at least 18 months, as to some of the information) but also used that information to her strategic advantage in order to obtain a verdict on the issue of the defendant’s negligence. At trial, the defendant even admitted that the representative had “told some whoppers” but had opted to focus on causation. Ultimately, the defendant’s strategy had prevailed, since the jury found that it had been negligent but that the plaintiff had failed to prove causation.
If You Have Been Hurt in a Cape Cod Amusement Park
Fairs and carnivals should be fun and thrilling, not dangerous. Nevertheless, injuries are common at these events. If you, your child, or another family member has been hurt, the experienced Cape Cod amusement park accident attorneys at the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, will be glad to put their decades of combined experience to work for you. Call us at (888) 262-6664 to schedule your free consultation. We have offices in both Hyannis and Plymouth.
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Summary Judgment Was Appropriately Denied When Plaintiff Was Not Injured “by Reason of a Defect in or Upon the Way” – Landry v. Massachusetts Port Authority