The following blog entry is written from a defendant’s position after a jury verdict for plaintiff. Reviewing this kind of briefing should help potential plaintiffs and clients better understand how parties in personal injury cases 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 bus accident/brain injury case and its proceedings.)
Nonetheless, Dr. Sutton, plaintiff’s vocational rehabilitation expert, testified concerning plaintiff’s future earning capacity and potential lost earnings based on the unsupported assumption that plaintiff would have returned to work full time in the CAD industry. Dr. Sutton’s conclusions regarding plaintiff’s potential future earnings a CAD drafter, placing her in the 90th percentile in terms of salary, were based on speculation and conjecture. Moreover, Dr. Sutton made these assumptions about plaintiff’s future salary without knowing or evaluating what her salary rank had been the last time she was employed in the AutoCAD field. While plaintiff returned to school after being laid off from her position as a drafter to study English and accounting, she had not formally upgraded her CAD certifications.
Therefore, Dr. Sutton’s opinions regarding plaintiff’s potential future lost wages were based on pure speculation and cannot serve as a basis for the jury’s award. The evidence was not sufficient to support that plaintiff would have been able to successfully change jobs and would have advanced to the position of a senior CAD drafter.
Finally, the jury’s award of $1.3 million for past economic damages is also not supported by the evidence. While the parties stipulated that plaintiff’s past medical damages totaled $1,137,218.24, there was insufficient evidence to support plaintiff’s past lost wages because her employer paid her in cash and was not reporting her income. Moreover, even accepting plaintiff’s counsel’s argument that plaintiff’s lost earnings to date were $66,695.00, when past medical and past earnings (though clearly speculative) are combined, the proper calculation is $1,203,913.24. However, the jury awarded an additional $96,086.76, which is not supported by any evidence.
In short, the jury’s award in this case is clearly excessive and should be reduced. (See Part 11 of 11.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.