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Boston Personal Injury Law Blog

Is Expert Testimony Always Necessary?

In a recent Superior Court case involving alleged negligent security at a Bruins hockey game in Boston, the judge decided, contrary to what many believe is established precendent, that the plaintiff does not need to produce expert testimony in order for his case to go on to trial. The judge found that professional ice hockey is "inherently violent" and that where frustrated fans are "fueled by a volatile mix of unbridled physicality and alcohol, fights at TD Garden are forseeable." As to whether security measures taken by the defendants to prevent the plaintiff's injuries during a fight between fans were adequate under the circumstances, the judge deferred to"the collective wisdom of the jury as fact-finders." Some say the judge's ruling will not be upheld on appeal due to earlier case law requiring expert testimony in similar negligent security cases; others hail the ruling as practical and grounded in reality.

Juror Lists Must Now Be Made Public

The Supreme Judicial Court recently ruled that trial courts must create lists of jurors in all cases and make them available to the public "no later that the completion of trial." Justice Cordy concluded that revealing the identities of jurors is an ancient practice in Massachusetts, and he cited the 18th centruy Boston Massacre case, where the jurors who acquitted the British soldiers were known to the public. Jurors names may be withheld only if there is a "good cause" showing that a risk of harm to the jurors exists.  Justice Gants dissented, noting, among other things, that including a juror list in case files "may, over time, diminish the fairness and impartiality of jurors" and induce a greater reluctance among citizens to serve on a jury.

Hazing

The world is changing-  perhaps the best indication of this is what was acceptable 10-20 years ago no longer is.  When I first started practicing law in a large law firm, my suits would literally stink from the second-hand cigarette smoke which permeated through the firm-  thankfully, that is history.

Premises Liability- Rotted Stairwell

A recent case caught my eye - it is unfortunately an all-too-familiar scenario: a person walks up/down a rotted stairwell and falls through, thereby sustaining serious injuries.  In this case, the steps of a wooden stairway at a railroad station gave way, causing a 49 year old commuter to fall 30 feet onto the platform below.  Not surprisingly, the commuter sustained serious neck, hip and shoulder injuries that required medical treatment costing in excess of $100,000 and resulted in many days of missed work and incurred lost wages.

Asking the Jury for Money

The following sentence recently was added to a Massachusetts statute: "In civil actions in the superior court, parties, through their counsel, may suggest a specific monetary amount for damages at trial."  

Changes in the Jury Selection Process

Until recently, Massachusetts was one of few states nationwide that did not permit attorneys to conduct voir dire, i.e., the questioning of prospective jurors in court prior to trial.  Only judges were permitted to question prospective jurors. A new law, signed by the governor in August 2014 and effective February 2015, will permit both judges and lawyers, upon request, to conduct voir dire, subject to "reasonable limitations" the court may impose.  

Off-campus housing at Colleges

Most of us can still remember all the craziness we experienced and/or saw while in college.  Combining that environment and a lack of supervision with a young person's still developing brain which does not readily recognize certain risks and dangers can be a recipe for disaster.

Slippery Boatdecks

I came across an interesting case recently-  it involved a ship deckhand who slipped on a vessel he was helping to load;  apparently, he slipped on a mixture of slick oil and water and sustained serious back injuries as a result.

Playground Accidents

Once again, it is clear that almost any injury can become the subject of a civil lawsuit.

Bicycle Assembly

I read about a case recently where a Washington state resident was riding his bicycle when the bike stopped suddenly, throwing him off the bike, over the handlebars and onto the road.  He had purchased the bike about 3 weeks prior to this incident and had paid to have the bike assembled.  An inspection determined that the bolt which connects the handlebars to the stem assembly was not tightened properly.  Not surprisingly, his injuries were fairly serious and including a dislocated right shoulder.

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