Thursday, May 16, 2024

Issues Surrounding a Zero Verdict That Was Never Read Out Loud in Open Court

In the case of Shook v. Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group, Inc., No. 1861 EDA 2023 (Pa. Super. April 4, 2024 Dubow, J., King, J., and Lane, J.) (Op. by Dubow, J.), the court reversed a trial court Order ordering a new trial on damages.

In this case, the Superior Court noted that the jury verdict in the trial below was never actually read out loud in open court before the trial court rejected the zero verdict returned by the jury.  According to the record from the trial court proceedings, the original zero verdict was never announced in court, the jury was not polled and the verdict was not properly recorded. 

As such, the Superior Court found that there was nothing for the trial court to reinstate. Accordingly, the Superior Court noted that a jury verdict that was never read out in open court is not a verdict that could be reinstated by the court.

In the end, the trial court’s ordering of a new trial was reversed and the trial court was instructed to review the issues presented on remand only if the Plaintiff actually preserved the same.

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

I thank Attorney James MBeck of the Philadelphia office of the Reed Smith law firm for bringing this case to my attention.

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