Massachusetts Appellate Court Finds No Reversible Error in Evidentiary Rulings or Misconduct by Counsel in Case Arising After Police Car Struck Cyclist – Basiony v. Boston

When a lawsuit is tried to a jury, not everyone is pleased with the outcome. In order to warrant the reversal of a trial court’s entry of judgment upon a jury’s verdict, however, an aggrieved party must be able to show a reversible error to the appellate court.

Recently, the City of Boston sought to reverse a trial court’s $22,000 judgment against it after a police officer struck a bicyclist with her cruiser. The appellate court, however, disagreed with the city’s arguments that the trial court had acted incorrectly in the case and affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

Facts of the Case

In the recent unreported case of Basiony v. City of Boston, the plaintiff was a man who filed suit against the defendant city after he was allegedly injured when a police car struck his bicycle. According to the plaintiff, the officer who hit him was driving her cruiser the wrong way on a one-way street at the time of the collision. A jury trial resulted in a verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $22,000. The defendant city appealed, averring that the trial court had erred in not granting its post-judgment motion for a judgment as a matter of law, a new trial, or a remittitur. As grounds, the city argued that the trial judge had committed reversible error with regard to certain evidentiary rulings and that the plaintiff’s attorney should have been more harshly sanctioned for his supposed misconduct at trial.

The Decision of the Massachusetts Appeals Court

The court rejected the city’s motion and affirmed the lower court’s decision to enter judgment upon the jury’s verdict in favor of the plaintiff. First, the court noted that a lower court’s ruling on a motion for a new trial is only to be reversed in the event of an abuse of discretion. Although there was the possibility that a certain witness’ testimony regarding his investigation of the collision may have been improper, inasmuch as it was evidence of a subsequent remedial measure, admitting such testimony did not amount to a prejudicial error that would warrant a new trial. The trial judge did not admit the witness’ report into evidence and even instructed the jury that the report was inadmissible.

The court likewise found no reversible error in the lower court’s decision to admit testimony that the plaintiff had gone to physical therapy some four years after the accident, despite the city’s characterization of this as “surprise” testimony.  With regard to the alleged misconduct of the plaintiff’s attorney, the court found that the trial judge’s instructions immediately after the conduct at issue served to cure any potential issue and that both parties’ attorneys had “at times pushed the envelope of zealous advocacy and strained the limits of civility.”

To Talk to an Attorney About Your Case

If you or a loved one has been hurt because of the negligence of a governmental entity, business, or individual, you should talk to a lawyer about your right to seek redress in a court of law. The Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, will be glad to schedule an appointment for you with an experienced Massachusetts car accident lawyer. Call us at (888) 262-6664 and ask for a free, confidential case evaluation. Our offices are located in Hyannis and Plymouth. We serve clients in Cape Cod and elsewhere in Massachusetts.

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