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.