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October 2014 Archives

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.  

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