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Appeals Court of Massachusetts Rules Trial Court is Not Required to Assess An Expert’s Potential Conflicts or Reliability of Proposed Testimony Absent a Request

In Massachusetts personal injury cases alleging a breach of duty, it is common for one or both parties to engage expert witnesses, to offer an opinion regarding whether the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty, and whether the breach of any duty resulted in harm to the plaintiff. The testimony of expert witnesses can be precluded or limited if the court finds that the expert has a conflict of interest or has insufficient qualifications to opine on a certain issue.

In a recent case, Kahyaoglu v. Adams, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts held that if a party fails to request a hearing to establish the reliability of expert testimony, he or she waives to right to object on that issue, affirming Commonwealth v. Fritz. If you sustained personal injuries because of someone else’s negligent actions, it is important to retain a knowledgeable Massachusetts personal injury attorney to prevent expert testimony that should be precluded from being used as evidence against you.

Factual Background

Reportedly, the plaintiff alleged she suffered personal injuries due to the defendant’s negligence in exiting his vehicle. Following a trial, a jury found in favor of the defendant. The Plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial, which the trial court denied. Plaintiff filed a pro se appeal of both the jury verdict and the denial of her motion. On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Holding of the Appeals Court of Massachusetts

The Plaintiff argued the trial judge committed an error of law in failing to question the defendant’s expert witness regarding any potential conflicts, and in failing to analyze the expert’s proposed testimony. The Appeals Court of Massachusetts declined to adopt the plaintiff’s reasoning, stating that a trial judge does not have a duty to determine whether a witness has any conflicts. Additionally, the court stated that the plaintiff waived the right to have the judge exclude any potential expert testimony by failing to request the judge perform an analysis to determine the reliability of the testimony or to otherwise limit the testimony. Moreover, the court stated that even if the judge had committed errors with regard to the defendant’s expert testimony, it did not harm the plaintiff’s case, as the jury ultimately found that the defendant did not breach any duty owed to the plaintiff.

Confer with a Seasoned Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney

If you were injured due to someone else’s failure to act in a reasonable manner, you may be entitled to damages. It is in your best interest to confer with a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury attorney as soon as possible, to analyze the facts surrounding your injury and formulate a case that will provide you with the best chance to obtain a favorable result under the given circumstances.  At Karsner & Meehan our personal injury attorneys have the skills and experience needed to identify any potential obstacles to your recovery and help you obtain a successful outcome. We can be reached at 508-822-6600 or via our online form to schedule a free consultation.

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Massachusetts Appellate Court Affirms Multi-Million Dollar Car Accident Judgment June 5, 2018, Massachusetts Injury Lawyers Blog