Parents Sue Sacramento-area Hospital For Medical Malpractice, Part 5 of 9

(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the proceedings.)

Our power over excessive damages exists only when the facts are such that the excess appears as a matter of law, or is such as to suggest at first blush, passion, prejudice, or corruption on the part of the jury, (citations omitted.) Practically, the trial court must bear the whole responsibility in every case. (Bond v. United Railroads (1911) 159 Cal. 270, 286 [113 P. 366].)

The trial judge had an opportunity to review the evidence in this case at the time of the hearing on the motion for new trial. We have also independently reviewed the evidence.

The mere fact that the judgment is large does not validate an appellant’s claim that the verdict is the result of passion or prejudice of the jury. Each case must be determined on its own facts. It is only in a case where the amount of the award of general damages is so disproportionate to the injuries suffered that the result reached may be said to shock the conscience, that an appellate court will step in and reverse a judgment because of greatly excessive or grossly inadequate general damages. (Daggett v. Atchison. T. & S.F. Ry. Co., (1957) 48 Cal.2d 655, 666 [313 P.2d 557, 64 A.L.R.2d 1283].)

That result which requires reversal should clearly appear from the record. We are unable to say, as a matter of law, that the judgment in this case is so excessive as to warrant us in interfering with the finding of the jury. Di Rosario, Id. @ 1239.

Jury misconduct may result in excessive damages and support a remittitur. That was the situation in Tramell v. McDonnell Douglas Corp., (1984) 163 Cal.App.3d 157, 171 [209 Cal.Rptr. 427], where the trial judge concluded damages were excessive based on juror declarations stating that the plaintiff’s counsel would receive 33% of what we awarded to Mrs. Tramell and her children…. (Id. at p. 163. Fn.2.) Tramell held use of a remittitur is a permissible procedure…. There is no legal or logical impediment to the trial judge’s decision that juror misconduct was an objective fact which improperly influenced the verdict herein. (Id. at p. 171.) (See Part 6 of 9.)

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

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