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 motorcycle accident/personal injury case and its proceedings.)
Plaintiff testified at trial that he currently has pain in the left hip/pelvis area which he rates as a 3 on a scale of 0-10. He did experience more acute flare ups 1-2 times a year since he has been released back to work and has returned to Dr. Jones, who has sent him to physical therapy and taken him off work for a week or two. Dr. Jones testified that he expected plaintiff would have on-going pain for 3-5 years following the accident however, because it was already 3.5 years after the motorcycle accident, he would expect that plaintiff will have the on-going pain for another 1.5 years. The jury’s award for future medical expenses ($720) and future lost earnings ($4,250) were not substantial.
Based on the above evidence, the award of $190,000 for past pain and suffering and $80,000 for future pain and suffering was excessive and not based on the evidence presented at trial. A new trial should be granted.
In the Alternative, The Court Should Remit The Award.
As noted above. Code of Civil Procedure section 662.5(b) sets forth the procedure whereby the court may deny a motion for a new trial conditioned upon acceptance of a reduction of the award. In general, the trial judge has discretion to grant a new trial or the grounds of excessive damages, and it is the court’s duty to grant such a new trial or provide for a reduction of a verdict if, under the circumstances, it believes the jury’s award is excessive. (Bazzoli v. Nance’s Sanitarium, inc. (1952) 109 Cal.App.2d 232.)
It is not an abuse of discretion nor grounds for a reversal if a remitter is granted unless there is no substantial basis in the record to support such a reduction. (Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Company (1981) 119 Cal.App.3d 757.; Neal v. Farmers Insurance Exchange (1978) 21 Cal.3d 910.) Here, sufficient grounds clearly exist for this Court to grant a remitter to reduce the jury verdict.
For all the foregoing reasons, defendant Loretta Brown’s motion for new trial should be granted, or alternatively the court should reduce the verdict of the past and future award for pain and suffering to an amount that the court determines to be fair and reasonable under the circumstances.
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.