Articles Tagged with appeals court

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gavelOnce a plaintiff files suit in court and the defendant answers the complaint, the parties enter into the discovery phase of litigation.  In the discovery phase, parties may submit written request for answers to the other side (interrogatories), request for the production of documents, requests for admissions, and notices of depositions.  The purpose of providing the opposing side with such information is to avoid surprise and the miscarriage of justice and to fully disclose the nature and scope of the controversy to narrow, simplify and frame the issues.  Once the discovery phase of litigation begins, attorneys may get the information necessary to win the case at trial or to craft a reasonable argument to encourage settlement prior to trial.  Essentially, the main purpose of discovery is “for the parties to obtain the fullest possible knowledge of the issues and facts before trial.” Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 501 (1947).

Under Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 26:

(a) Discovery Methods. Parties may obtain discovery by one or more of the following methods except as otherwise provided in Rule 30(a) and Rule 30A(a), (b): depositions upon oral examination or written questions; written interrogatories; production of documents or things or permission to enter upon land or other property, for inspection and other purposes; physical and mental examinations; and requests for admission. Unless the court orders otherwise, or unless otherwise provided in these rules, the frequency of use of these methods is not limited.

Failure to comply for discovery requests can have disastrous results.  In a case recently decided by the Appeals Court of Massachusetts, the Plaintiff’s suit against the Defendant was ultimately dismissed because she failed to comply with discovery requests by the defense.  The judge found that the Plaintiff had defied the court order and did so despite clear warnings by a previous judge that he would dismiss her case should she fail to produce requested tax documents.  On appeal the Plaintiff claimed that the failure to produce the requested documents was due to the negligence and/or inaction by her attorney.  The judge, in his discretion, found otherwise. Continue reading →

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angry dogIn February of 2007, Mr. Irwin walked his small dog, Peppermint, in his front yard.  Mr. Irwin had previously been disabled by stroke and was able to walk only with the assistance of a cane.  While Peppermint was doing his daily routine- an unleashed German Shepherd approached the area and came toward Peppermint in his yard.  The German Shepherd took Peppermint by the neck and shook him uncontrollably.  Mr. Irwin was unable to intervene as he was knocked down in the ensuing chaos.  As the owner of the German Shepherd separated the fight, Peppermint ran into the house and was brought to an Emergency Veterinary Center.  The small dog was labeled as being in “critical condition” due to the internal injuries he sustained as well as the bruising and dog bites over his body.  Emergency surgery was performed that totaled approximately $8,608.05 for treatment.

Mr. Irwin, the Plaintiff, brought suit against the Defendant to recovery veterinary costs that totaled over $8,000.00.  The lower court Judge found that these expenses were reasonable and necessary.  Defendant appealed claiming that the damages should be “capped” at the market value of the dog, regardless if the expenses for veterinary care exceeded that amount.

The Plaintiff brought suit under M.G.L. Chapter 140 § 155, which reads, in part: Continue reading →

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