The following blog entry is written from a defendant’s position after a jury trial verdict for plaintiff. Reviewing this kind of briefing should help potential plaintiffs and clients better understand how parties in a personal injury case present such issues to the court.
(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this auto accident/personal injury case and its proceedings.)
DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL
MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES
The trial court is the sole line of defense against excessive jury verdicts. This Court is thus empowered to re-weigh the evidence, and to determine independently whether the evidence justifies the amount awarded by the jury. That power should be exercised here, if ever there were a time to do so.
Here, the jury awarded the astonishing amount of $10.2 million against Zenkov for injuries suffered by Mr. Ward, and the loss of consortium suffered by Ms. Ward. Yet there was no catastrophic injury here of the type justifying $10.2 million. This amount is not an amount which a reasonable person would estimate as fair compensation for plaintiff’s serious–but not catastrophic– injuries. These awards are utterly unreasonable, and this Court must act. For if it does not, then Zenkov will have no practical other legal avenue by which to seek a reduction of the monstrous amount which has been awarded against him.
Mr. Ward did, of course, present evidence at trial that he has suffered serious–but not catastrophic–injuries due to the auto collision. The evidence is of injuries to his neck, back, and knee, which cause him to suffer chronic pain for which he must take powerful drugs, and which will require surgery in the future. These injuries, while substantial, simply do not justify an award of $10.2 million. This is so because, while the evidence may have shown that Mr. Ward’s injuries have affected his quality of life, the same evidence also showed conclusively that his injuries have come nowhere close to destroying his life.
They did not render him paralyzed, nor unable to control his bowels, nor sexually dysfunctional. They did not render him immobile. They did not damage his brain or affect his cognitive abilities or his speech. And while evidence was presented that Mr. Ward is depressed as a result of his injuries, there is no other evidence of any emotional or psychological damage.
Mr. Ward can walk, drive a car, and take care of himself. His doctors claim that he will require assistance in gardening, household repairs, housekeeping, shopping, errands, and similar activities; however, there is no evidence that his injuries have left him unable to perform the basic functions of life on his own.
The jury looked at Mr. Ward and saw an injured man, deserving of compensation. In compensating him, however, the jury went beyond the bounds of reason. It is this Court’s job–its obligation–to bring the compensation within the realm of what is reasonable, and thereafter, if that is not acceptable to the plaintiffs, to order a new trial. (See Part 2 of 14.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.