The law of negligence provides compensation for injured parties who suffer harm as the result of another person’s negligence. This doctrine extends not only to average laypersons but also to government employees. Over time, the law of negligence as applied to government actors has developed, leading to a different standard that applies in cases in which public officials or agents act carelessly. One of the primary differences between a negligence lawsuit against an individual versus against the government is that the injured party must provide the government with notice of the intent to file a lawsuit before initiating the action. There are also limits on the amount of damages that an injured layperson can recover from the government for a tortious act.
A Massachusetts appellate court recently considered a tort claim filed against the government. In Landry v. Massachusetts Port Authority, the plaintiff filed a claim seeking damages from a port authority in Massachusetts as well as the city in which the port authority operated. The plaintiff, who worked as a delivery driver for a commercial laundry service, alleged that he was injured at the Worcester Regional Airport when a motorized sliding gate malfunctioned and pinned him to a metal bar. The man was at the airport for the purpose of delivering a clean set of uniforms for the airport employees.
In his complaint, the plaintiff alleged that the port authority and city were liable under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act (MTCA). Both defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, alleging that the plaintiff had failed to state a cause of action according to the MTCA. The defendants also alleged that summary judgment was appropriate because the plaintiff failed to give notice of his injuries within 30 days from the date they occurred. The trial court denied the defendants’ motion, and they appealed.
The Massachusetts appellate court reviewing the action dismissed the appeal, based on the defendants’ failure to appropriately file an interlocutory appeal. An interlocutory appeal is an appeal brought before the final outcome of the litigation, but it is based on a motion or ruling in the case that results in a final order. The appellate court also noted that the defendants failed to prove that the MTCA barred the plaintiff’s claim. In fact, the plaintiff had provided sufficient evidence that his injuries resulted from a city employee who caused the motorized gate to unexpectedly move while the plaintiff was traversing the gateway. As a result, the appellate court upheld the trial court’s ruling on the defendants’ motions for summary judgment.
If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident involving a government official or employee, you may be entitled to compensation. At the Law Offices of John S. Moffa, our seasoned Massachusetts personal injury lawyers have assisted numerous injury victims with investigating a potential claim against a municipality or government agency and navigating the complexities of the MTCA. We offer a free consultation to learn about your situation and to discuss the legal rights and remedies available to you. Call us at 1-800-446-4485 or contact us online to set up your appointment.