Product Liability:

Verdicts in Massachusetts for 1983-85

HRD-91-8: Published: Oct 26, 1990. Publicly Released: Oct 26, 1990.

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GAO provided information on 66 product liability cases resolved in Massachusetts between 1983 and 1985, focusing on the: (1) accidents, parties, plaintiffs' allegations and demands, and case processing time; (2) rate and size of awards; and (3) frequency of post-trial award adjustments and the size of actual payments to plaintiffs.

GAO found that, in Massachusetts: (1) most accidents involved machinery, where plaintiffs suffered personal injury mainly due to alleged defendant negligence; (2) case processing time was longer than that in four other states despite the requirement of prejudgment interest accrual for quick resolution; (3) defendants' liability rates were lower than those in four other states, but extremely large awards accounted for the majority of the total amount awarded; (4) no punitive damages were awarded, since they were limited to death cases; and (5) post-trial action reduced payments by 23 percent despite the addition of prejudgment interest.

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