Claims Against MBTA Are Now Within Massachusetts Tort Claims Act
Personal injury lawyers note that a change in the MBTA law will harm victims of accidents on the T, including bus accidents in Massachusetts. In an attempt to help the fiscally troubled MBTA, the Massachusetts Legislature amended the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act to bring the T within the scope of the Act. Among the many ramifications this has, it allows the T to escape interest on judgments; the Commonwealth, its agencies, cities and towns of Massachusetts do not have to pay interest on judgments.
In a case that came down from a Superior Court judge, the Court found that the law cannot be applied retroactively, against an injured party. In July 2005, the plaintiff in the case at issue was injured. He sued the MBTA and the bus driver involved in a collision. There was a trial in September 2009. The jury came back in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $661,784. The Court imposed interest and costs, as it usually does, and added them to the verdict.
On November 1, 2009, a law passed by the Massachusetts Legislature, went into effect. The law was an Amendment to the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act. That Act describes how injured parties can sue the Commonwealth and the various agencies, city and towns, in the Commonwealth. The Amendment adds the MBTA to be included in the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act. Among other things, the Tort Claims Act does not allow for interest. The Court held that the law cannot be applied retroactively; that is, because this case was brought and tried before November 1, 2009, it did not come under the Tort Claims Act. Wherefore, interest can be added to the judgment, just as it would in a regular civil case.
The case is entitled Smith v. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, Number 12-243-10 at Lawyers Weekly.