Some laws can lead to harsh results, but when courts apply these laws they generally do so because of an honestly held belief that they are enforcing the law exactly as it is written. In a recent slip-and-fall case before a Massachusetts appeals court, the court dismissed the claim even though the plaintiff claimed she could not have known who the responsible party was within the allotted time.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff stepped on an uneven depression in a road in Boston and seriously injured her left foot. She notified the city of her claim within thirty days, and almost three months later, the city denied liability and claimed the Boston Gas Company was the responsible party. The plaintiff sent notice to Boston Gas the next day, and later filed a complaint against the city and the gas company.
Evidently, Boston Gas moved to dismiss the claim, arguing that the plaintiff failed to timely file notice of the claim. In this case, it was undisputed that the plaintiff did not notify the gas company within thirty days. However, the plaintiff argued that her failure to comply with the notice requirement was excusable because it was “virtually impossible” to know that the gas company was the responsible party within the thirty-day period.