Fortier v. Cruz
A court may set aside a jury's verdict if the verdict shocks the sense of justice and compels the conclusion that the jury was influenced by partiality, prejudice, mistake or corruption. In January 2007, the defendant driver allegedly rear-ended a motor vehicle that, in turn, rear-ended the plaintiff's motor vehicle. There was minimal property damage to the plaintiff's motor vehicle, and the plaintiff was able to drive away from the scene. The plaintiff immediately visited a chiropractor, who charged $273. The plaintiff did not obtain additional medical treatment for five months. Months afterward, in July 2007, the plaintiff was rear-ended in a separate motor-vehicle accident. The plaintiff's medical expert, Dr. Connair, opined that the plaintiff suffered permanent injuries as a result of the January 2007, motor-vehicle accident. The plaintiff maintained that her medical expenses as a result of the January 2007, motor-vehicle accident were $15,801. Dr. Connair did not examine the plaintiff until 2009. The defendant disputed the nature and extent of the plaintiff's injuries. A jury awarded the plaintiff $273 in economic damages and no non-economic damages, as a result of the January 2007, motor-vehicle accident. The plaintiff moved for an additur. The jury rejected the majority of the plaintiff's claims for medical expenses. As a result, it was reasonable for the jury to refuse to award the plaintiff non-economic damages. "It is apparent," wrote the court, "that the jury found neither the plaintiff nor her treating physician credible on the issue of damages and/or causation." Considering the minimal property damage, the plaintiff's delay in obtaining medical treatment after she initially visited the chiropractor, and the similar injuries that the plaintiff suffered in July 2007, the jury's decision not to award non-economic damages was reasonable. The court denied the plaintiff's motion for additur. The plaintiff also moved for a new trial. It was not an abuse of discretion to permit defense counsel to ask whether the plaintiff suffered injuries in a separate motor-vehicle accident. This evidence was clearly admissible, and the court denied the plaintiff's motion for a new trial.