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Massachusetts Appellate Court Upholds Summary Judgment for Defendant in Bus Accident Case involving Product Liability Claim

Car accidents can happen in many different ways and can involve a number of parties in the lawsuit. Filing a civil claim for damages after a car accident is a multi-step process that requires you to obtain evidence and prove a case against the defendants named in the action. The elements that you have to prove depend on the cause of action that you assert against the defendants such as negligence or product liability. In some instances, a car accident may have happened because of faulty parts or poor warnings. Liability is not always clear cut, which is why having a seasoned Massachusetts car accident lawyer guiding you through the process is so important.

Recently, Massachusetts Court of Appeal considered a claim involving a bus that caught fire. The court was asked to determine whether the lower court erred when it entered summary judgment in favor of a bus company on the plaintiff’s complaint for breach of the implied warranty of merchantability. the plaintiff argued that a defect in the bus caused it to catch fire and that he sustained injuries when he navigated the bus to safety and assisted passengers in exiting the vehicle. The plaintiff brought the action against the company that made the bus and that leased it to the company that was operating the fare from New York City to Boston.

On review, the appellate court first noted that a claim for the breach of an implied warranty requires the plaintiff to show that a defect or unreasonable condition existed at the time the product left the manufacturer’s control and that the defect rendered it unsafe for ordinary uses. If the product or machine at issue is complex in design and its operation is outside a layperson’s knowledge, then expert testimony is required to help the jury understand how the product was allegedly defective.

Here, the appellate court stated that the cause of the fire in the bus and whether it was a defect was a matter outside the scope of a layperson’s knowledge. The plaintiff admitted that he did not provide expert testimony on this point to help establish this aspect of his claim. Instead, the plaintiff argued that summary judgment was improper because he could rely on admissions that the defendant made through its corporate designee. The appellate court rejected this argument, finding that the company had not made any such admissions in evidence. In fact, the designee had said many times that he was not an expert on matters involving the function or alleged defect in the bus. Based on these findings, the appellate court affirmed summary judgment of the plaintiff’s claim.

If you were injured in a car accident and believe that a machine defect may be to blame, contact Mass Injury Group immediately to begin learning about your rights and options. Our seasoned team of lawyers is standing by to ensure that you are treated fairly throughout this process and that your rights are asserted to the fullest extent. Call us now at 617-263-0060 or contact us online to get started.

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