Thursday, May 24, 2012

Commonwealth Court Addresses Zero Verdict Law in Unpublished Decision

Tort Talkers may recall that the trial court opinion in the case of Anastasi v. Old Forge was previously highlighted here in which the trial court denied a motion for a new trial in a case where there was a 50-50 finding by the jury on the liability issue in a trip and fall case but in which the jury did not enter any award in favor of the Plaintiff on the damages issues.  The trial court denied the post-trial request by the Plaintiff for a new trial on the issue of damages only based upon an allegedly improper zero verdict under the circumstances.

It has been brought to my attention that the Commonwealth Court, in a 2-1 unpublished memorandum opinion has referred that case back for a new trial.  See Anastasi v. Old Forge Borough, No. 1327 C.D. 2011 (Pa.Cmwlth. May 18, 2012 Leadbetter, Brobson, Oler, JJ.)(Majority Op. by Brobson, J.)(Dissent without Op. by Leadbetter, J.). 

The appellate court noted that the main injury, an Achilles' tendon tear, is commonly known as a painful injury and the court also emphasized that while the extent of injury sustained was contested by the defense at trial, there was no dispute that the type of injury occurred as a result of the incident.  The appellate court stated that, since the jury also found in favor of the Plaintiff on the causation issue, the zero verdict on damages could not stand under this scenario.  As such, the case was remanded for a new trial.

Anyone desiring a copy of the Commonwealth's Courts' recitation of the current status of the applicable law on zero verdict issue in its unpublished Anastasi decision may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

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