Court Discusses Proof of Causation in Massachusetts Negligence Cases

When a person suffers harm on someone else’s property, he or she may be able to pursue damages via a negligence claim in a civil lawsuit. A plaintiff asserting a negligence claim must establish each element of negligence, though, otherwise, the claim may be dismissed. This was demonstrated in a recent ruling in which the court dismissed the plaintiff’s negligence claim due to her failure to establish causation. If you sustained injuries due to another party’s negligence, it is prudent to consult a skillful Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what evidence you need to seek a successful outcome.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the plaintiff ate dinner at a restaurant owned by the defendant corporation, after which she exited the restaurant through a revolving door. When she went through the door, however, she fell onto the sidewalk. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging the door was defective, and the defect caused her to fall. In support of her assertion, she submitted an expert report from a building contractor that stated that although the door complied with national standards with regards to rotational requirements, it was more likely not in compliance at the time of the accident, and exceeded the upper limitations. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff could not prove causation.

Establishing the Elements of a Negligence Claim

In Massachusetts, a plaintiff alleging negligence must show that the defendant owed him or her a duty to act with reasonable care, the defendant breached the duty, the plaintiff suffered damages, and the damages were caused by the breach. In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff had established that the defendant owed her a duty and that a reasonable jury could find that the defendant breached the duty by failing to inspect the door on a regular basis. The court found that the defendant could not establish causation, however.

Specifically, the court found that the majority of the plaintiff’s expert report was inadmissible. The court explained that most of the report relied on junk science that was not trustworthy. While the court found that the expert’s opinion that the door complied with rotational requirements when he inspected it was rational and based on observable facts, his assertion that wind pushed the door causing the plaintiff to fall was purely speculative and lacked any foundation in science or evidence.

Similarly, the expert’s assertion that the braking mechanism on the door was broken was based solely on conjecture. In sum, the expert had no evidence to support his opinion that the door malfunctioned. Thus, the court granted the defendant’s motion, dismissing the plaintiff’s case.

Consult with a Seasoned Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney

If you sustained injuries on property owned by another person or entity, it is prudent to meet with a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury attorney regarding what damages you may be able to recover. At the Law Office of James K. Meehan, our knowledgeable personal injury attorneys will work diligently to gather any evidence in support of your claims, to help you seek a favorable outcome. You can reach us at 508-822-6600 or via our form online to schedule a confidential and free meeting.