Thursday, October 13, 2022

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Applies General Verdict Rule to Uphold Verdict In Favor of Plaintiff

In the case of Estate of Cowher v. Kodali, No. 77 MAP 2021 (Pa. Sept. 29, 2022) (Op. by Dougherty, J.), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reviewed waiver issues with respect to an appeal from the entry of a jury verdict.

According to the Opinion, the jury in this medical malpractice case awarded the Plaintiff a lump sum amount of damages under the Pennsylvania Survival Act and did not itemize the amount of pain and suffering damages or other components of its lump sum award.

During the course of the appellate history in this case, the Pennsylvania Superior Court had granted certain Defendants a new trial on the survival damages based upon those Defendants' claims that the admission of the Plaintiff’s expert testimony on the pain suffering issues was erroneous.

The issue before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was whether the Defendants had waived their right to a new trial under the general verdict rule.

According to the Opinion, the general verdict rule applies and mandates a finding of a waiver of issues for appeal when a general verdict rests upon both valid and invalid grounds, and the appellant challenging the verdict failed to request a special verdict slip at trial that would have clarified the basis of the verdict.

In this case, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court concluded that those circumstances existed in this case and, as such, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held, under the general verdict rule, that the Defendants had waived their request for a new trial. As such, the Superior Court’s Order for a new trial was reversed.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.  The Concurring and Dissenting Opinion by Justice Mundy can be viewed HERE.

Source: “Daily Opinion Summaries” from

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