Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Standard for Deciding Motion for Remittitur Reviewed

In the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas case of Carassai v. Echelmeier, No. 2007-CV-04081 (C.P. Mont. Co. Dec. 8, 2014, Rogers, J.), the trial court denied a Defendant’s Motion for a New Trial and For Remittitur in an automobile accident case where a Defendant appealed from a $30,000.00 Arbitration Award and a jury entered a verdict of $1,000,000.00.  

This matter involved a Plaintiff who was a 19 year old passenger in a vehicle being driven by her boyfriend at the time of the accident.   Prior to the accident, the Plaintiff enjoyed running, riding a bike, jet skiing, and snowboarding.   She had no prior medical history with respect to her knees before the accident.  

During the course of the accident, the Defendant’s vehicle allegedly turned in front of the Plaintiff’s vehicle, allegedly resulting in the collision.  The Plaintiff flew forward in the vehicle with her knees breaking the dashboard and her head cracking the windshield.   Thereafter, the Plaintiff treated primarily for complaints of ongoing pain in both knees.    

In his Opinion, Judge Thomas P. Rogers described the current status of the law regarding the Motion for a New Trial based upon the weight of the evidence.  In that regard, the court noted that a new trial is not warranted where there is a mere conflict in testimony or because the trial judge on the same facts may have arrived at a different conclusion.   Rather, where there is conflicting evidence that it properly presented and weighed by a jury, it is not an abuse of discretion for the trial court to deny a Motion for a New Trial.

Judge Rogers also set forth the current status of the law governing the resolution of a Motion for Remittitur.   The court noted that the granting of a motion for remittitur is only appropriate when an award is plainly excessive and exorbitant.   Judge Rogers also stated that the assessment of damages, including pain and suffering damages, is within the province of the jury and should not be interfered with unless the amount of the award resulted from prejudice, partiality, corruption, or some other improper influence. 

 This case is currently up on appeal and was just argued in the Pennylvania Superior Court. 
Anyone wishing to review the Carassai decision my click this LINK.

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