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Massachusetts Court of Appeals Affirms Defense Verdict in Negligence Case Against Inn

There are many steps to receiving fair compensation for injuries suffered due to the negligence of others. The first step in a typical Cape Cod personal injury lawsuit is an investigation into the accident giving rise to the plaintiff’s claim. The case then proceeds through a phase called “discovery,” during which issues such as the defendant’s alleged breach of duty and the plaintiff’s medical treatment and expenses are explored.

If an amicable settlement cannot be reached between the parties, the next step is a trial. In the case of a jury trial, each party can ask the court to give the jury specific instructions, based on his or her view of the law that is applicable to the facts of the case. It is up to the trial court judge to decide which instructions will actually be given. If one side or the other is displeased with the judge’s instructions, an appeal may follow the jury’s verdict.

Facts of the Case

In a recent (unreported) case decided by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Appeals Court, the plaintiff filed suit against the defendant inn, seeking payment for personal injuries that she allegedly suffered when she fell on the defendant’s property and broke her arm. According to the plaintiff, the defendant’s negligence was to blame for her fall. The case was tried to a jury, which returned a verdict in the inn’s favor on the plaintiff’s negligence claim. The plaintiff appealed.

Decision of the Appeals Court

The appellate court affirmed the lower court’s decision. The plaintiff complained on appeal that there was error in the jury instructions issued by the trial court judge. While the appeals court agreed with the plaintiff that the jury instructions at issue were “not a model of clarity,” the court found that the plaintiff had failed to meet her burden of demonstrating that she had been the victim of prejudicial error due to the alleged inefficiencies in the lower court’s instructions.

In so holding, the court noted that the plaintiff had only included a transcript of the jury charge conference, the jury charge, and the verdict. Being “hampered by the deficiencies in the record,” the court of appeals did not have grounds to reverse the lower court’s ruling. Had the plaintiff included a full transcript of the trial, it is possible that the reviewing court may have reached a different conclusion.

Contact a Cape Code Premises Liability Attorney

Getting the compensation that you deserve after being hurt due to someone else’s carelessness or wrongdoing can be a lengthy and complex process. If you or a loved one has a potential claim against an individual, business, or governmental entity, you should talk to an attorney who is experienced in these types of cases. At the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, our seasoned Cape Cod slip-and-fall attorneys will be glad to schedule a free consultation so that you can learn more about your legal rights. Call us now at 888-262-6664 to get started.

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