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Bus Driver Or Security Guard…Court Says Act Like Both (NJ)

July 19, 2019

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<p style="line-height: 18pt; background: white; margin: 0in 0in 12.75pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: 'Open Sans','serif'; color: #303030;">In<em> <a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Maison-v.-NJ-Transit-Corp..pdf">Maison v. NJ Transit Corp.</a></em></span><a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Maison-v-NJ-Transit-Corp..pdf"><span style="font-family: 'Open Sans','serif'; color: #1982d1;"></span></a><span style="font-family: 'Open Sans','serif'; color: #303030;">, the plaintiff was accosted by a group of unruly teenagers while riding on the bus.  While aware of the situation, the New Jersey Transit bus driver failed to intervene, believing that the plaintiff had the situation under control.   As plaintiff exited the bus, one of the teenagers struck her the head with a glass bottle, causing severe injuries. A jury found defendant New Jersey Transit responsible and awarded the plaintiff 1.8 million dollars.</span></p>
<p style="line-height: 18pt; background: white; margin: 0in 0in 12.75pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: 'Open Sans','serif'; color: #303030;">Unhappy with the verdict, defendant New Jersey Transit filed an appeal, claiming numerous errors made by the trial court. One basis of the defendant’s appeal was the trial court’s denial of defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s claims for failing to provide an expert report or testimony regarding the standard of care owed by the defendant.</span></p>
<p style="line-height: 18pt; background: white; margin: 0in 0in 12.75pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: 'Open Sans','serif'; color: #303030;">On appeal, the court noted that a plaintiff is not always required to present expert testimony, and the necessity of expert testimony is within the discretion of the trial judge.  The facts of this particular case fell within the “common knowledge exception,” which essentially means that expert testimony is only required when a matter is so esoteric that jurors of common knowledge and experience cannot form a valid judgment.  In this case, jurors without any advanced knowledge could have concluded that the bus driver should have done something to assist the plaintiff.  Accordingly, the Appellate Court upheld the trial court’s determination that the plaintiff was not required to provide expert testimony for this particular case.</span></p>
<p style="line-height: 18pt; background: white; margin: 0in 0in 12.75pt; text-align: justify;"><span style="font-family: 'Open Sans','serif'; color: #303030;">Thanks to Heather Aquino for her contribution to this post.  Please contact </span><a href="mailto:gcoats@wcmlaw.com"><span style="font-family: 'Open Sans','serif'; color: #1982d1;">Georgia Coats</span></a><span style="font-family: 'Open Sans','serif'; color: #303030;"> with any questions.</span></p>

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