In Arnold v. Security National Insurance Co., a Florida man was hurt in an automobile crash that was apparently caused by an uninsured driver. Following the accident, the man filed a lawsuit against the company that provided him with uninsured motorist insurance. In his complaint, the man sought damages for his medical expenses as well as his past and future pain and suffering.
During trial, the hurt man offered expert testimony in support of his request for reimbursement of his health care costs as well as his current and future pain and suffering. According to the expert testimony, the man suffered a herniated disc in his back that would likely require surgery and ongoing medical treatment as a result of the traffic wreck.
Although jurors returned a verdict of nearly $1.5 million in favor of the injured man, the trial court ordered a remittitur, or reduced verdict, of almost $1 million. According to the court, the jury’s award was excessive, and the man’s pain, suffering, and medical costs merited a judgment of less than $500,000. In response, the man filed an appeal with Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal.
On appeal, the man argued the trial court abused its discretion when it reduced his award for past and future pain and suffering. The man claimed the trial court implied that surgery would reduce or eliminate his future pain and suffering, even though there was no evidence in the record to support such an assertion. The insurance company countered by arguing that the jury’s award was motivated by passion, based on external evidence, and had no rational relationship to the man’s injuries.
After analyzing the statutory factors a trial court must consider when determining whether a remittitur is appropriate, the appellate court stated a trial court may not replace a jury’s judgment with its own unless the verdict was clearly arbitrary or excessive. The court added that a remittitur may be based on data obtained from similar comparison cases.
Next, the Fourth District said there was nothing in the record to explain why the trial court chose the reduced future pain and suffering damages it awarded in place of the jury verdict. Since the trial court’s order failed to explain why a remittitur was appropriate or identify how the amount of damages it chose instead was ascertained, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s order granting remittitur and remanded the case.
If you were hurt in a South Florida car accident, you should contact a seasoned lawyer who can help you safeguard your rights. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced Miami personal injury attorney, do not hesitate to contact Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. through our website or give us a call today at (305) 448-8585.
Arnold v. Security National Insurance Co., Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 4th Dist. 2015
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