Borja v. Sanford
$127,137 Verdict Failed To Shock Court's Conscience,$127,137 Verdict Failed To Shock Court's Conscience
- Superior Court
- Apr 11 2012 (Date Decided)
- Pickard, J.
A court may set aside a jury's verdict and order a new trial, if the verdict shocks the court's conscience and compels the conclusion that the jury was influenced by partiality, prejudice, mistake or corruption. Allegedly, the plaintiff, Franklin Borja, was injured in a rear-end motor-vehicle accident and began to experience low back pain. The plaintiff went to a "walk-in" medical facility the following day, and a doctor prescribed medicine. Dr. George Rubin, an orthopedic surgeon, opined that as a result of the subject motor-vehicle accident the plaintiff injured three discs in his back, one of which was leaking spinal fluid, and that the plaintiff's future medical care or therapy is likely to cost $3,000 per year. The plaintiff's medical expenses for five office visits were $2,137. A jury awarded economic damages of $64,637 and non-economic damages, for pain and suffering and permanent injury, of $62,500. The defendant, who admitted that he was legally responsible, argued that the jury was influenced by partiality, prejudice, mistake or corruption and moved to set aside and for remittitur. The jury's verdict failed to shock the court's conscience. The defendant did not provide medical evidence that contradicted Dr. Rubin's opinion. If the 28-year-old plaintiff is likely to live and to experience back pain for 49 years, which is his life expectancy, and to spend $3,000 per year on treatment, the jury's award is not unreasonable. "Because Dr. Rubin opined that, as a result of the collision caused by the defendant, the plaintiff will suffer a lifetime of pain and treatment," wrote the court, "the award could have been substantially more without shocking the sense of justice." The jury's verdict was within the necessarily uncertain limits of just damages. The court denied the defendant's motions to set aside and for remittitur.