Monday, October 19, 2020

Superior Court Upholds Jury's Verdict for Future Medical Expenses in Limited Tort Case Even Though No Serious Injury Found


In the Non-precedential decision in the case of Darwish v. Einspahr, No. 2588-EDA-2019 (Pa. Super. Sept. 24, 2020 Bowes, J., Shogan, J., and Pellegrini, J.) (Mem. Op. by Bowes, J.) [non-precedential], the Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed a trial court decision that had found that the $50,000.00 verdict on future medical expenses in a limited tort motor vehicle accident case was proper even though the jury did not find serious impairment. 

The trial court had vacated and molded the jury verdict in favor of the Plaintiff from an award of $50,000.00 to $0. As noted, on appeal, the Pennsylvania Superior Court vacated that ruling and remanded the case for entry of judgment on the jury’s verdict. 

In its Opinion, the Superior Court affirmed that the jury found that the limited tort Plaintiff did not suffer a serious impairment of body function, but had awarded the Plaintiff $50,000.00 in economic damages to compensate her for future medical expenses. 

Following the trial, the Defendant asserted that the award of future medical expenses should be overturned because the evidence presented to the jury in that regard was speculative and that the jury’s award of such money was against the weight of the evidence, equivocal, and contrary to law. The Defendant also asserted that, since the jury determined that the Plaintiff did not sustain a serious impairment of a bodily function, the jury’s award of future medical expenses was grossly excessive and shocked one’s sense of justice. As noted, the trial court agreed and reduced the verdict to zero. 

In its Opinion on appeal, the Superior Court started with a note that the law favors jury verdicts and restricts trial court judge’s abilities to mold a verdict. 

The Superior Court rejected the trial court’s notation that, since there was no evidence of past medical expenses, the likelihood that the Plaintiff would incur in future medical expenses was “speculative.” The Superior Court noted that, often times, in motor vehicle accident cases, there are no claims for past medical expenses as the same are typically precluded. The court additionally noted that there was considerable evidence in this matter for the jury to conclude that the Plaintiff was injured and would require treatment in the future. 

Also, the Pennsylvania Superior Court noted that the question of whether the Plaintiff sustained a serious impairment of a bodily function was a separate question as to whether or not the Plaintiff had sustained injuries requiring future treatment. The Superior Court again noted that sufficient expert medical evidence was produced by the Plaintiff in support of the future medical expenses claim.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this Non-precedential decision may click this LINK.


It is noted that there are reports that a motion will be filed with the Superior Court to request that this decision be reissued as a precedential decision.

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