Massachusetts Court Explains Amendments to Pleadings in Personal Injury Cases

In many personal injury matters involving a defective product, it is not immediately evident to the injured party who is ultimately responsible for the harm suffered. Thus, in some cases, the defendant will join another party as an additional defendant based on information unknown to the plaintiff and will argue that the additional defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. Recently, a Massachusetts court issued an opinion discussing pleadings involving additional defendants in a case involving defective machinery in which the parties filed opposing motions. If you were hurt by a dangerous product, it is prudent to meet with a skillful Massachusetts personal injury attorney regarding your potential claims.

The Plaintiff’s Harm and Defendant’s Claims

The plaintiff was working at a construction site when he was injured by a defective pile driver. He filed a lawsuit against the construction company and the rental company that owned the pile driver. The rental company then sued the companies that manufactured and sold the pile driver, claiming that they were ultimately responsible for the plaintiff’s harm. The manufacturer moved for a judgment on the pleadings while the rental company sought leave to amend the complaint to join to assert additional facts and allegations.

Leave to Amend a Complaint to Join

The court denied the manufacturer’s motion but granted it the right to seek similar relief in the future and granted the rental company’s request for leave to amend the complaint in part. With regards to the rental company’s proposed contribution claim, the court explained that despite the assertion that such a claim did not require the manufacturer to defend against a new theory of liability, whether the amendment was prejudicial was not the focal point.

Instead, the court explained that the standard of review focuses on the diligence, or lack thereof, the party seeking an amendment in pursuing the claims in a timely manner. The court stated that amendments to pleadings that occur after a deadline established in a scheduling order are only permitted in cases in which the moving party establishes good cause. In the subject case, the rental company did not try to amend the complaint to join until four months after the deadline ran.

The court noted, however, that the rental company had a reasonable excuse for the delay in seeking leave to amend the complaint to join. As such, the court concluded it did not fail to act diligently. Further, the court explained that the manufacturer would not suffer any prejudice due to the late amendment and that it would not prolong the overall litigation. Therefore, the court granted the rental company leave to amend the complaint to join to include a contribution claim.

Speak to a Seasoned Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney

Many companies may be deemed liable when a person is injured by a harmful product. If you were injured by a defective machine, personal injury attorney James K. Meehan can help you determine your potential claims and assist you in seeking the full amount of damages recoverable. You can reach us via our form on our website or at 508-822-6600 to set up a conference.