Massachusetts Appeals Court Rules Against MBTA in Bus Accident Case

Massachusetts Appeals Court Rules Amendment to G.L. c. 258 Making MBTA a "Public Employer" is Not Retroactive

Award to Injured Pedestrian Affirmed

In a case of first impression, the Massachusetts Appeals Court has ruled that the 2009 amendment to G. L. c. 258, which made the MBTA a 'public employer' for purposes of tort claims, does not apply retroactively. The court affirmed the underlying judgment, including the award of interest and costs, obtained by a seriously injured pedestrian.

The plaintiff in Traybman v. MBTA was represented by Marc Breakstone of Breakstone, White & Gluck. The pedestrian accident occurred when Traybam was struck by an MBTA bus in 2005 and suffered severe injuries. She filed a claim against the MBTA and the driver in Suffolk Superior Court. The trial in November 2008 resulted in a verdict of just under $4 million. The MBTA appealed. One of the central issues in the case was whether the judgment against the T should be subject to interest at the rate of 12% per year.

At the time of the trial, the MBTA was an independent body politic which was subject to the pre- and post-judgment interest provisions of Massachusetts law. However, the sweeping transportation reform bill enacted in June 2009 included amendments to G.L. c. 258 which made the MBTA a 'public employer' for purposes of G. L. c. 258.

The T argued on appeal that the statute should be applied retroactively, and that there should be no interest or costs awarded to plaintiff. The Massachusetts Appeals Court disagreed. The court also rejected other evidentiary claims raised by the MBTA.

Here is the case summary.

The animation below is part of the demonstrative evidence used at trial to obtain the verdict on behalf of the plaintiff.

The complete decision of the Appeals Court can be found by clicking here.

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