The new rule requires plaintiffs’ counsel to disclose at the charge conference whether they intend to suggest a specific monetary amount for damages in their closings, and if so, how much.
In Massachusetts, defense closes first. However, the rule permits plaintiffs’ counsel to decide at the spur of the moment to suggest a dollar amount in their closing, but defense counsels would then be entitled to a rebuttal, which may be a distinct disadvantage for plaintiffs.
ORDERED: That the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure adopted by order dated July 13, 1973, as amended, to take effect on July 1, 1974, are hereby amended as follows: Rule 51(a) By deleting the current Rule 51(a) and inserting in lieu thereof the following Rule 51(a):
(2) Arguing Damages. During closing arguments, the parties may suggest a specific monetary amount for damages. If a party suggests a specific monetary amount for damages during closing argument without having provided notice of the intent to suggest the amount to all other parties reasonably in advance of closing arguments, the court shall allow the opposing party a reasonable opportunity to address the amount to the jury.
The amendments accomplished by this order shall take effect on March 1, 2022, and will apply to trials that begin on or after that date.