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In a Cape Cod personal injury lawsuit, the essential question is, did the defendant behave in a reasonably prudent manner under the circumstances? These types of cases can be very fact-specific, as what constitutes “reasonable” can vary substantially from situation to situation.

For example, generally speaking, it would not be considered reasonable to run into another person with the intent of knocking an object out of his or her possession. However, the same conduct might be considered acceptable within the confines of two teams playing a rough sport – hockey, for example. Still, even in a game, there are situations in which a negligence or recklessness claim may be viable. As stated above, it all depends on the circumstances.

Facts of the Case

In a recent Massachusetts appeals court case, the plaintiff was a hockey player who brought suit against the defendants (the plaintiff’s coach, a player on an opposing team, the opposing team’s coach, two referees, and others), seeking monetary compensation for injuries he allegedly incurred while participating in a hockey game. Both the plaintiff and the opposing player whose blades allegedly cut the plaintiff’s wrist during the game were 17 years old at the time of the incident giving rise to the litigation.

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The defendant in a Massachusetts drunk driving case has certain constitutional rights. One of these rights in the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Generally speaking, this means that an officer of the law must either obtain the defendant’s consent or secure a search warrant in order to obtain certain types of evidence. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule, such situations involving exigent circumstances. With regard to the issue of consent, there can be substantial disagreement as to whether a particular individual’s “consent” was voluntary under the circumstances (only “voluntary” consent excuses an officer’s failure to obtain a warrant, unless an exception applies) and, if there truly was voluntary consent, the extent of that consent.

Facts of the Case

In a case recently considered by the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the defendant was a man who was involved in a car crash that rendered him unconscious. He was extracted from his car and taken to the hospital via ambulance. An officer placed him under arrest for operating while under the influence of alcohol and administered his Miranda warnings to him. The defendant admitted that he had been drinking and gave consent for a “chemical test to determine [his] blood alcohol concentration.” After a blood test was administered, confirming that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol, he was prosecuted for drunk driving.

The defendant filed a motion to suppress the results of the blood tests. The trial court denied the motion, as well as his motion for reconsideration. The defendant then entered a conditional plea, wherein he admitted facts sufficient for a finding of guilty while appealing the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress.

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When a Cape Cod personal injury lawsuit is filed against a defendant that is a governmental entity, there is often a defense that the entity is immune from suit based on the principles of governmental tort immunity. Of course, this defense is not always successful, as there are many situations in which the government can be sued, and a judgment can be entered. Resolution of the issue of whether or not immunity applies is typically handled by motion practice in the trial court, sometimes with interlocutory review by the appellate court if an appeal is filed by the party aggrieved by the trial court’s decision.

Facts of the Case

In a recent Massachusetts Appeals Court case (unreported), the plaintiff was a man who suffered a closed head injury and bilateral leg amputations after falling onto subway tracks (owned and maintained by the defendant transportation authority) and being struck by a train. He filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, averring that the defendant was negligent in failing to adequately staff the station with a safety inspector or a customer service agent (CSA) on the day the accident occurred.

The defendant sought summary judgment, arguing (among other things) that it was immune from liability for the plaintiff’s failure-to-staff claim, citing the discretionary function exception contained in Massachusetts General Laws ch. 258, § 10(b). The trial court denied the defendant’s motion, and the defendant filed an interlocutory appeal of the denial of its motion under the doctrine of present execution.

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In a Cape Cod personal injury case, the plaintiff has the burden of proving four elements, each by a preponderance of the evidence. These elements include duty, breach of duty, damages, and causation. Once these elements have been proven, it is up to the jury to determine the amount of money damages to which the plaintiff is entitled in compensation for his or her injuries.

Along the way, both the plaintiff and the defendant are bound by certain rules regarding the admissibility of evidence and the civil procedures to be used. If an overzealous legal advocate runs afoul of these rules, it is up to the trial court judge – and ultimately the appeals courts, if further review is taken – to decide whether a new trial is warranted under the circumstances. As was reiterated in a recent case, the question is not merely whether there was wrongdoing by an attorney at trial but, rather, whether the misconduct had such an effect on the jury that a mistrial was required.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case considered on appeal by the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the plaintiff was a woman who suffered a broken tooth while eating a fast food hamburger in 2011. After determining that there had been a bone fragment in the burger, the plaintiff filed suit against the defendants, the restaurant where the hamburger was purchased and the company that supplied beef to the restaurant, seeking compensation for the injury to her tooth (which had required nearly two dozen trips to the dentist over a two-year period to resolve).

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Massachusetts workers have certain protections under state and federal law. For instance, most workplace injury cases fall under the provisions of Massachusetts workers’ compensation laws. Generally speaking, if a worker’s injury is covered by workers’ compensation, he or she will not be able to file a negligence lawsuit against the employer or a co-worker. While there are some exceptions to this general rule, most such claims are barred under Massachusetts law. A recent case explored this concept.

Facts of the Case

In a recent appeals court case, the plaintiff was a woman who sued her former employer (a bank) and two former co-workers, alleging that she had suffered personal injuries due to the defendants’ creation of a “toxic work environment” and asserting claims for negligent retention and/or supervision, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and civil conspiracy. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaint pursuant to Mass. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).

The plaintiff opposed the defendants’ motion and moved for permission to amend her complaint to assert a claim for retaliation under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The trial court judge dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint without ruling on her motion to amend. The plaintiff appealed.

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In a Massachusetts wrongful death lawsuit, there are likely to be many issues. If the loved one’s death was caused by an act of negligence, some of these issues will include duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages.

For a plaintiff to be successful on the merits of his or her case, he or she must provide convincing, competent, and legally admissible evidence on each of these issues. Unfortunately, simply offering testimony from witnesses may not be enough, as there are rules of evidence that determine what is, and what is not, legally admissible in court. In some situations, an appellate court may be called upon to determine whether these matters were ruled upon properly during the trial of a wrongful death lawsuit.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was the personal representative of the estate of man who died in a car accident. The plaintiff filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendants, seeking to recover compensation for the loss of his decedent. The case was tried to a jury. The plaintiff was dissatisfied with the jury’s verdict and filed a motion for a new trial. The trial court denied the plaintiff’s motion, and he appealed.

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In a Cape Cod car accident case, the negligent motorist’s insurance company has certain obligations, including the duty to make a fair settlement offer if liability is clear. Of course, the question of what exactly constitutes fair offer can be subject to debate.

If, for example, an offer is refused and a jury trial results in a substantially higher verdict, the plaintiff has a good argument that the insurance company did not proceed in good faith. When the opposite happens – the jury returns a very modest verdict when compared to the insurer’s settlement offer – the plaintiff may have a difficult time convincing the court that the insurance company acted unfairly.

Facts of the Case

In a recent (unpublished) case, the plaintiff was a woman who filed a personal injury lawsuit, on her own behalf and on behalf of her two minor children, against the defendants, an allegedly negligent driver, his employer, and their insurance company. Her claims included negligence, infliction of emotional distress, and violation of Mass. Gen. Laws chs. 93A and 176D claim. The plaintiff’s claims against the insurance company were stayed while the bodily injury claims against the remaining defendants proceeded to a trial by jury in 2015. At trial, the defendants admitted liability, and jury awarded damages of $10,260 to the plaintiffs; the verdict was affirmed on appeal.

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Among the most important protections guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution is the freedom from unlawful searches and seizures. Of course, the concept of what is, or is not, an unreasonable search or seizure is subject to much interpretation.

In a Cape Cod operating under the influence (or “OUI”) case, the question of whether a search and seizure was legal often hinges on whether the arresting officer acted in accordance with the law in stopping the defendant – in other words, did he or she have probable cause for the stop?

If a reviewing court determines that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity prior to stopping the defendant, it is likely that any evidence obtained during the stop (and any search and seizure executed in accordance therewith) will be deemed inadmissible at trial.

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The vast majority of Cape Cod car accident lawsuits are settled out of court. In most cases, the parties’ respective automobile accident liability insurance companies are part of the settlement process and, consequently, are bound by the terms of the settlement.

Sometimes, however, instances arise in which an insurance company may not be part of the settlement negotiations in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit arising from an automobile accident. A recent case explored such a situation and gave instructions for how such matters are to be handled in similar circumstances in the future.

The case at bar differed from the “typical” case in one important respect: one of the primary issues in the underlying litigation was whether the incident giving rise to the suit was an accident or whether it was the result of an intentional act. Importantly, the insurer was not obligated to make certain payments for an intentional act but was obligated to pay for damages arising from an act of negligence.

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It is not unusual for a Cape Cod premises liability, personal injury, or other negligence-based lawsuit to involve multiple claims against multiple defendants. When this happens, a plaintiff may opt to settlement some claims against some parties, while the remaining claims proceed to trial. The procedural hurdles involved in such a situation must be carefully followed, in order to preserve the legal rights of all those involved.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a tenant who sued his landlord and an appliance store, after a stove in his apartment exploded, severely burning the tenant’s right hand. The tenant’s claims against the landlord included negligence, vicarious liability for the store’s negligence, breach of the implied warranty of habitability, and breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. Against the store, the plaintiff sought compensation for negligence, breach of contract as a third-party beneficiary, violation of Massachusetts General Law ch. 93A, and strict liability. Various third-party and cross-claims were also filed in the lawsuit.

The tenant and the store entered into a settlement for $15,000. Without the tenant’s assent, the store filed a motion for entry of a separate and final judgment pursuant to Massachusetts Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b). The landlord opposed the motion. After a hearing, the trial court approved the settlement and ordered the entry of a separate and final judgment dismissing the tenant’s claims against the store. The landlord appealed.

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