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Remittitur of Damages

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CaseDonreil A. Borne v. Celadon Trucking Services, Inc.

Issue:  Whether, and to what extent, a suggestion of remittitur is appropriate for loss of enjoyment of life damages.

Facts:  Plaintiff prevailed in a motor vehicle accident trial and was awarded, among other things, $750,000 in damages for loss of enjoyment of life. The trial court suggested a remittitur that would leave the Plaintiff with $400,000.

Appellate Decision:  In a split decision, the intermediate court suggested a further remittitur to leave the Plaintiff with $50,000 for loss of enjoyment of life. The court based this decision on “cases we have deemed similar.” Judge Stafford, dissenting, wrote that the cited cases were not sufficiently applicable to justify such a drastic departure and that the remittitur of 93% would “destroy” the jury’s verdict.

Review Granted:  December 18, 2014.

Prediction:  Ben thinks the Supreme Court will agree with the dissent and find that the intermediate court’s remittitur went too far without an appropriate basis. Certainly every case is different, and the jury is in the best decision to assess appropriate non-economic damages in a particular situation.