Search Site
Menu

What Lessons Can Be Learned From the Fyffe Decision? Part 3 of 4

This will be the third blog in our series of discussions on the recent Massachusetts Appeals Court decision of Fyffe v. MBTA. We continue our analysis of the lessons that can be learned from this case, one certain to be cited by defense lawyers. While the majority of cases do not go to trial, the way that a trial would unfold and the anticipated evidence that would be presented at such a trial influences to a very large extent the amount of recovery that might be sought from a pre-trial settlement.

During a trial, a lawyer can only present evidence and question witnesses when he or she has a good faith basis to believe the evidence or the question asked. In Fyffe, the Appeals Court found an absence of good faith for many of the statements and questions presented by the plaintiff’s attorney.

Second, a lawyer must confine himself or herself to questions and statements concerning what he/she thinks the evidence will show. Thus, wild off-the-cuff statements will not be admissible. The Appeals Court in Fyffe found that the plaintiff’s attorney had made several of these inappropriate statements and questions during his presentation of evidence to the jury.

Third, the Appeals Court in Fyffe noted that a lawyer must weigh his or her duty as a zealous advocate of the client with his or her duty as an officer of the court, someone charged with helping to obtain the truth. This is an ethical obligation owed to the court and to the legal profession as a whole.

Lastly, the Appeals Court in Fyffe found fault with the method used by the plaintiff’s attorney in determining the plaintiff’s loss of earning capacity. If a client is unable to work as a result of an accident, the attorney should first determine what that client’s baseline of income was at the time of the accident. Documentation should come in the form of tax returns and pay stubs in the years prior to the accident. That information allows the factfinder to multiply the time lost by the plaintiff’s gross income. As to a future loss of income, with the proper medical testimony it can be established how long the client will continue to be out of work. The inquiry then continues by evidence showing whether the client can return to his/her former employment or, for example, may need a sedentary job, which might pay less than the previous job. There is an arithmetical method used for reducing the future loss of earning capacity to present value. Throughout the Fyffe opinion you can see the courts dismay that this methodical approach was not followed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Feinberg & Alban, P.C. fervently protects your rights
  • The Boston firm of Feinberg & Alban, P.C. specializes its practice in the area of personal injury.

    The attorneys serve the entire state of Massachusetts in addition to affiliating with lawyers in other states to handle cases outside of Massachusetts.

  • $7.7 Million Award for Feinberg & Alban Client in Personal Injury Trial

    Boston Attorneys Win Highest Injury Verdict in Massachusetts in 2011 & 2012.

Client Reviews
  • google
    5.0/5.0

    Colleen was great to deal with and communication was easy.

    Read more

    Graham Eyres

  • google
    5.0/5.0

    Colleen represented both my daughter and myself in a car accident case. It was a tricky and very involved case with many detail oriented issues to deal with. She handled everything with confidence and grace and supported us through what were some ver...

    Read more

    Rhonda Brouder

  • google
    5.0/5.0

    I’m a college student in the Boston area who suffered a pedestrian personal injury in December of 2022. Thankfully I was put into contact with Feinberg & Alban PC and I worked closely with Robert and Perry Feinberg who treated me with respect and f...

    Read more

    Anne O'Leary

  • google
    5.0/5.0

    Alexis Cahill was great, professional, and was open for me to contact on any questions I may have had during the process. Feinberg & Alban PC's services were nice as well, and I'd recommend them due to the transparency, what they were able to negotia...

    Read more

    Branden B.

  • google
    5.0/5.0

    My mom had a great experience with Feinberg as her attorney, after she fell near her house, and he took her under his wing. Mr. Feinberg was helpful, very organized and kind. He helped my mom a lot, very happy with results

    Read more

    Jane sungurov

See all reviews
Awards & Affiliations
Contact us

Quick Contact Form

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.