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Thursday, September 22, 2022

Plymouth Jury Awards 1.4 Million Dollars to Trip and Fall Victim

For a long time in the legal world, there has been a bias that juries in certain counties in Massachusetts will not award verdicts of higher amounts.  Several of these counties are located in the South Coast and Cape Cod area.  Insurance companies and defense counsel have used this bias (which, to be fair, is sometimes a reality) in making unreasonable settlement offers to personal injury plaintiffs.  A jury in Plymouth Superior Court recently made a big statement that these counties may be willing to award the big verdict by awarding a trip and fall victim in Plymouth County a verdict of $1,437,314.00.

In the case at hand, the Plaintiff was leaving a store when her left foot “became entrapped in a large gap between the edge of the interior floor and a dangerously high door threshold,” which caused her knee to hyperextend.  The Plaintiff fell and broke her right leg so badly that the bone burst through her skin, ligaments, tendons, musculature and tissue.  The Plaintiff, who had recently retired, now has chronic pain and limitations on her mobility.

Following a Massachusetts General Laws chapter 93A/176D demand letter, the insurance company offered $25,000.00 as a settlement offer despite the medical bills being over $350,000.00.  Counsel for the Plaintiff stood strong and the Plaintiff herself did not cave to the unreasonable offer and the case proceeded to a five day trial.  While the insurance company increased its settlement offer by just over double during the trial, they were in for a rude awakening when the jury came back with the $1,437,314.00 verdict. 

The defendant’s argument had been that the Plaintiff was wearing “flat slides” and that she was comparatively at fault for the accident.  While the jury did agree there was some fault of the Plaintiff (a reasonable finding as all of us have a duty to look at our surroundings), they found the Defendant primary liable for the unsafe condition of the store.  Even the Defendant’s expert acknowledged that he would not have designed the door’s threshold in such a manner as it existed at the time of the fall. 

While the tenant of the property settled before trial, the owner of the property took the matter to trial and was hit with a verdict more than fifty times the highest settlement offer.  The defense filed a Motion to Correct the Judgment that was promptly denied.  The defense then filed a Motion for a New Trial which was also promptly denied.

The best thing that could come out of this case (other than for the Plaintiff, of course), would be a wake up call to insurance companies to take personal injury cases more seriously and to understand that juries are willing to give the big verdicts for deserving cases in any county in the Commonwealth.

If you have any questions regarding personal injury, please feel free to contact the Law Offices of Samuel S. Reidy for a free consultation.

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