Appeals Court Affirms Defense Verdict in MVA / Verdict Not Against Weight of Evidence

The Massachusetts Appeals Court denied plaintiff’s appeal of a defense verdict obtained by Attorneys David F. Hassett and Scott T. Ober following a 9-day jury trial in Plymouth Superior Court.  Attorneys Courtney Mayo and Scott Ober prepared the appellee’s brief.

The action arose from a two-vehicle accident occurring in the early morning hours at an intersection of Route 20 and Greenwood Street in Worcester, MA.  The plaintiff, a 20-year old female, was a rear seat passenger in a vehicle operated by her friend, a 17-year old female.  The plaintiff brought suit against both the driver of her vehicle and Hassett & Donnelly’s client, the 19-year old male driver of the second motor vehicle.

As result of the impact, the plaintiff was ejected from the rear window of her vehicle. The plaintiff claimed serious personal injuries including vertebral, humerus and pelvic fractures and a traumatic brain injury with medicals of approximately $300,000 and a lost earning capacity in excess of $900,000.

During trial, Attorneys Hassett and Ober argued that the driver of the plaintiff’s vehicle had taken a left while in a right-turn only lane and drove directly in the path of the defendant’s vehicle.  Further, the defense argued that the male defendant was traveling with a green light and within the speed limit at the time.  The defense was permitted to submit evidence that the co-defendant female driver had consumed tequila prior to the accident.  Both plaintiff counsel and co-defendant counsel argued that the male defendant driver had failed to keep a proper lookout, failed to apply his brakes, that he had been turning down his radio and was not paying attention to the roadway immediately prior to the accident.

The jury returned a defense verdict in favor of Hassett & Donnelly’s client. The jury also determined that the female co-defendant was negligent and awarded damages in excess of $2,000,000 to the plaintiff.

On appeal and in plaintiff’s Motion for a New Trial, counsel argued that the verdict in favor of Hassett & Donnelly’s client was against the weight of the evidence and, further, that the judge’s limitation on attorney-conducted voir dire and certain evidentiary rulings were erroneous.  The Appeals Court rejected each of the plaintiff’s arguments. In dismissing plaintiff’s arguments regarding improper voir dire, the Appeals Court found that all parties had agreed without any objection to the parameters for voir dire set by the judge.  The Appeals Court also found no error in permitting evidence of co-defendant’s tequila consumption and, further, that co-defendant’s proposed stipulation about her negligence being a partial cause of the accident was nonsensical and based on incorrect application of legal principals.

To read the Massachusetts Appeals Court decision, click here.