SW Legal Educational Publishing

$5.7 Million Verdict for Loss of Leg by Tennager Not Excessive
Description Appeals court upheld a verdict of $5.7 million damages against an ammunition maker for a defective bullet that caused an injury that required a sixteen-year-old to have a leg amputated. Given the pain suffered, and that will be suffered for many years, the verdict was not excessive.
Topic Torts
Key Words Damages
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Sixteen-year old Joshua Smith shot his pistol four times. "He then heard a 'click.' Assuming the revolver was empty, he brought it into [his pickup] to reload. He placed the revolver on his right thigh with the muzzle pointed toward the floorboard. He reached for more ammunition and the gun discharged, striking him in the left leg." Eventually the leg was amputated. The jury found the ammunition to be defective, which caused delayed firing. It awarded $5.7 million in damages. The ammunition maker appealed the verdict as excessive.
Decision Affirmed. The verdict is not excessive given that Smith has a life expectancy of 56 years. He suffered extreme pain and mental anguish during the failed healing process before the amputation. He has undergone extensive surgery and will have more. His prosthesis must be remade every three to five years. He suffers from "phantom pain." The verdict is not manifestly unjust.
Citation Smith v. Olin Corp., 1999 WL 61433 (Slip Copy, Ct. App., Tex.)
or
990 S.W.2d 789 (Ct. App., Tex., 1999)

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