South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Appeals Court May Increase Damages to Correct Jury Abuse of Discretion
Description Louisiana high court held that when the damages awarded by a jury are inconsistent with the findings of a jury about the facts of a case, the appeals court may review the matter and award appropriate damages to ensure proper compensation for the injured party.
Topic Torts
Key Words Damages; Determination
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Green was injured when a shelf broke at a K-Mart store and dumped a stack of plastic crawfish platters on her. She sued for her injuries. The jury awarded her $1 million for future medical expenses, $357,000 for loss of future income, and $49,000 for past medical expenses. Green appealed that the jury should have also awarded her general damages for physical and mental pain and for loss of enjoyment of life. The court of appeal increased the future medical expenses award to $3.46 million and awarded her $500,000 in general damages. K-Mart appealed.
Decision

Reversed in part; affirmed in part. The evidence supported the jury award for future medical expenses of $1 million. While Green argued for more, and the court of appeal awarded more, determinations of credibility of the evidence on that matter are for the trier of fact, so the jury award stands. When a jury awards special damages but declines to award general damages, the reviewing court must determine whether the jury's finding is so inconsistent as to constitute an abuse of discretion. The failure to award general damages was inconsistent with the jury's finding that Green did not suffer any compensable pain and suffering from the accident. The award of $500,000 by the appeal court was appropriate to correct this abuse by the jury and was consistent with the evidence.

Citation Green v. K-Mart Corp., --- So.2d --- (2004 WL 1153321, Sup. Ct., La., 2004)

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