Thursday, March 3, 2016

'Transient Rub of Life' Doctrine Upheld Again by Pennsylvania Superior Court

In its recent decision in the case of Gold v. Rosen, No. 3303 EDA 2014, 2016 Pa. Super. 44, (Pa. Super. Feb. 19, 2016 Stevens, Lazarus, Ott)(Op. by Stevens, J.), Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of post-trial motions following the entry of a defense verdict.  

This matter arose out of a motor vehicle accident.  The evidence showed that the Plaintiff had also sustained similar injuries in a prior motor vehicle accident about a year before the subject accident. 

The parties in this matter proceeded to a jury trial after an appeal from an arbitration in the court system.  The case was tried on reports alone and the parties stipulated that the defendant was negligent and that the plaintiff sustained a cervical sprain as a result.  The defense contested the amount of the alleged harm from the cervical spine injury and also challenged whether the plaintiff's other injuries were related.  As noted, the jury returned a defense verdict.

The Plaintiff appealed and asserted, in part, that the jury's verdict was against the weight of the evidence as negligence, causation, and an injury had been conceded by the defense.

In Gold, the Pennsylvania Superior Court held that an award of no damages following a verdict of negligence is within a jury’s discretion where the injuries claimed by the Plaintiff were speculative and subjective.   The court reiterated well-settled rule that a jury need not believe the Plaintiff’s damages evidence and may believe in the evidence presented of pre-existing conditions.  

The court also reaffirmed the well-settled rule of Pennsylvania law that not all alleged injuries warrant compensation, even where a plaintiff voices some subjective pain complaints.  The Pennsylvania Superior Court in Gold stated, "This Court recognizes that not all injuries are serious enough to warrant compensation, even though there may be some pain."  Gold at p. 9.  

The Court went on to again recognized the well-settled principle that some injuries alleged by plaintiffs may be so minor as to amount to a "transient rub of life" that may not compensable under Pennsylvania law if so determined by a jury.

The test before the Court was whether the jury's finding that the injuries were so minor that they did not warrant compensation was a decision that defied common sense and logic.

Finding that the jury's decision did not defy logic or common sense, the Superior Court in Gold affirmed the trial court's denial of the plaintiff's post-trial motions.

This Opinion can viewed HERE.
 
I send thanks to Attorney James M. Beck of the Philadelphia office of Reed Smith Law Firm.   Please be sure to check out Attorney Beck’s excellent blog, the Drug and Device Law Blog.  

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