Massachusetts Appellate Court Affirmed Remitter of $32 Million Jury Award

If you have been injured or your loved one has been unexpectedly killed in an accident that was not your fault, you may be eligible to recover compensation for your injuries and losses. At The Law Offices of Barry Feinstein & Affiliates, P.C., our trusted and hardworking Massachusetts personal injury attorneys know how to handle even the most complicated accident claims.

The Case

In Dubuque v. Cumberland Farms, Inc., the Massachusetts Court of Appeals affirmed the remitter of a $32 million award to a $20 million award to the husband of a woman who was killed by a speeding SUV. According to court documents, the woman was struck and killed as she walking into a grocery store by the vehicle, which had raced across an intersection and crashed into the front of the store. The woman died instantly.

Unfortunately, storefront crashes are more common than you may think. According to the Storefront Safety Council, in excess of 500 individuals are killed and approximately 3,6000 people are injured in accidents as a result of motorists driving into storefronts each year.

After the deadly accident, the woman’s husband filed a wrongful death claim against the store claiming that since the store had experienced 485 “car strikes” over a ten year time frame, it ought to have installed bollards or other defensive barriers beside the walkway and at the entrance to the parking lot. The defendant argued that it owed no duty of care to the decedent because the accident was completely random and unforeseeable and that the wrongful death was the result of the negligent SUV driver. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, concluding that the store was negligent, and awarded the plaintiff $32 million in damages.

The defendants filed a motion for remitter. The trial judge reduced the damages amount, explaining that the $32 million figure was disproportionately high compared to the evidence. A new trial was ordered on the question of damages unless the plaintiff agreed to a damages award of $20 million. The plaintiff accepted and both parties appealed.

The Appeal

On appeal, the Court explained that a judge has wide discretion in deciding when to reduce a damages award. While a jury decides the question of damages, a judge can remit the damages in certain scenarios including if the damages are deemed to be excessive or “greatly disproportionate” to the injury suffered. In addition, the defendants argued on appeal that the jury should not have known about the 485 prior car strikes at its stores since those prior incidents were not sufficiently similar to the case at hand. The Appeals Court disagreed with the defendant. For these reasons, the $20,000 million dollar award was affirmed.

Contact an Experienced Massachusetts Injury Attorney

If you have suffered serious injury or lost someone you loved in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, we can help. At The Law Offices of Barry Feinstein & Affiliates, P.C., our attorneys who handle Massachusetts wrongful death cases have the skill, knowledge base and dedication to help you during every stage of the legal process. For more about your case, please call us today at 1-800-262-9200 or contact us online.

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