Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Defense Verdict Upheld Where Evidence Was Disputed On Whether Plaintiff Was Injured At All

In the non-precedential decision by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in the case of Smith v. Nguyen, No. 1312 EDA 2022 (Pa. Super. March 28, 2023 Panella, J., Bender, P.J.E., and Sullivan, J.) (Op. by Sullivan, J.), the court affirmed a trial court’s denial of a Plaintiff’s post-trial motions seeking a new trial after a jury found that a Defendant driver did not cause injury to a Plaintiff in a motor vehicle accident case.

After reviewing the record before it, the appellate court found that the trial court did not err by failing to grant a new trial under an argument that the jury’s finding of no causation of any harm was against the weight of the evidence.

In so ruling, the Superior Cour noted that the jury’s finding of no liability on causation for the Plaintiff’s injuries confirmed that the jury had rejected the Plaintiff’s expert witness’ testimony.

The court noted that the Plaintiff’s experts and the Defendant’s experts disputed one another on the issue of causation.  

The court also noted that the fact that the defense radiologist expert did not dispute the Plaintiff’s “subjective” reports of pain resulting from the collision did not constitute an agreement by the defense expert that the collision caused injury.

The court otherwise found that the jury’s decision that the Defendant’s negligence did not cause harm to the Plaintiff could properly have been based upon the evidence that the collision occurred at a relatively low speed, that the Plaintiff had pre-existing similar problems and degenerative conditions and/or that the Plaintiff did not complain of neck pain until four (4) years after the collision.

Overall, the court found that the Plaintiff did not show that the trial court abused its discretion in finding that the jury’s verdict did not shock the judicial conscience given that the post-trial claim was found to lack merit, the trial court’s denial of the same was affirmed on appeal.

This decision is also notable for the court’s ruling that a party is not entitled to adverse inference related to the failure of an opposing party to call a witness at trial where that witness was equally available to each party to be called as a witness.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this non-precedential decision may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney Paul Gambone of the King of Prussia office of the Forry Ullman law firm for bringing this decision to my attention.

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