Thursday, December 6, 2018

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Provides Lesson on Preserving Objections Relative to Jury's Verdict

In the case of Stapas v. Giant Eagle, No. 44 WAP 2017 (Pa. Nov. 21, 2018) (Op. by Mundy, J.), the court considered whether the Defendant was required to object to the jury’s verdict prior to the time the jury was discharged in order to preserve its challenge to the verdict.  

In the end, the Court ruled that the defense had waived its objection by failing to lodge an appropriate objection to the jury's alleged improper inclusion of future lost wages in the verdict when no evidence had been presented at trial in support of such a claim.  As such, a $2.1 million dollar verdict in favor of the Plaintiff who had been injured as a result of a shooting on the Defendant's premises.

The Defendant had labeled its challenge as a claim that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence in its Post-Trial Motion.  The Court noted that this type of claim does not ripen until after the verdict and is based upon a challenge to a jury's consideration of competing evidence (here there was no evidence presented in favor of a future wage loss claim).

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in this case that, where an objection to a jury’s verdict is premised upon trial errors which are capable of being corrected before the jury is discharged, those objections must be raised before that jury is discharged. 

Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed the Superior Court’s Order awarding the Defendant a new trial on damages.  

Anyone wishing to review the Majority Opinion by Justice Mundy may click this LINK.  The Dissenting Opinion by Justice Dougherty can be viewed HERE.

I send thanks to Attorney Scott Cooper of the Harrisburg law firm of Schmidt Kramer for bringing this case to my attention.

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