Auto AccidentMassachusetts Appellate Court Dismisses Single-Car Accident Case When Plaintiff Failed to Pursue a Tampering Claim

March 28, 20180

Car accidents happen for many reasons, including defects in the vehicles themselves. It can be nearly impossible after a car accident to know what or who was to blame, which is why having a seasoned Boston car accident lawyer on your side can make all of the difference in ensuring that you maximize the recovery that you obtain. There are many legal theories from which you may have to choose when determining the best course of action for your recovery. A recent appellate opinion demonstrates the importance of selecting your legal theories prior to commencing the litigation.

In the case, the plaintiff suffered serious injuries that rendered her paralyzed in a one-car accident. The plaintiff’s complaint alleged that the accident was a direct result of a sudden loss of steering in the vehicle. The plaintiff’s husband had a degree in mechanical engineering and conducted an investigation regarding potential defects. The husband concluded that the defect resulted from two parts in the vehicle that were defective as a result of tampering by the car manufacturer.

The plaintiff’s lawyer refused to pursue this theory and instead pursued a theory alleging that operator error and a malfunctioning airbag were the direct cause of the injuries that the plaintiff suffered. Although the plaintiff sought new counsel, they decided it would be unwise to change legal theories during the litigation. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the auto manufacturer. The plaintiff appealed, and the reviewing court upheld the verdict. The plaintiff’s post-trial motion alleging fraud was also denied, and her case was dismissed.


The plaintiff filed a new action asking to set aside the dismissal of her case, based on the theory that the defendant car manufacturer engaged in fraud and fraud on the court. The plaintiff alleged that the manufacturer engaged in fraudulent conduct that rendered the judgment against her manifestly unconscionable. More specifically, she alleged that the defendant tampered with the vehicle after the accident to alter evidence. The lower court dismissed this complaint, and the plaintiff appealed.

To successfully allege fraud on the court, a party must show that the accused party engaged in “the most egregious conduct involving a corruption of the judicial process itself,” such as bribery of judges or the jury. The appellate court ultimately concluded that the court properly dismissed her new action based on the fact that it was the plaintiff’s attorney who declined to pursue the tampering allegations and that the record lacked any evidence showing that the defendant engaged in egregious conduct or evidence tampering.

If you were injured in a car accident, and you believe that you may be entitled to compensation from the person or company that caused your injuries, we are standing by to assist you. There are many legal theories that may apply to your claim, and as this recent case demonstrates, selecting the right legal theories can make or break your right to recovery. We offer a free consultation to help you learn more about your options and how we can help you. Call us at 617-263-0060 or contact us online.

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