Esposito v. Awlasewicz
A court may set aside a defense verdict if the verdict is palpably against the evidence, and the jury could not reasonably have reached a verdict for the defense. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant driver collided with her motor vehicle in May 2010. The plaintiff went to the hospital and was diagnosed with back and neck strains and an ankle contusion. The plaintiff's complaint alleged that she suffered back and neck sprains or strains, as well as radiculitis, cervicobrachial syndrome, disc herniation and contusions. The plaintiff previously had experienced a back injury, prior to the subject motor-vehicle accident. The jury's interrogatories indicated that the defendant was negligent in causing the motor-vehicle accident and that the defendant's negligence did not proximately cause any of the plaintiff's injuries. The plaintiff moved to set aside the defense verdict and argued that some injuries were new and some pre-existed the motor-vehicle accident. "[I]t is the court's duty to set aside the verdict when it finds that it does manifest injustice, and is . . . palpably against the evidence," pursuant to the Connecticut Appellate Court's decision in Marciano v. Kraner. Here, the defendant's own expert, Dr. Dennis Ogelia, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who is a member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, testified that the plaintiff's back and neck strains and ankle contusion resulted from the 2010 accident. Dr. Ogelia's testimony supported a conclusion that some economic damages should have been awarded. The jury could not reasonably have found that none of the plaintiff's injuries resulted from the motor-vehicle accident. "There was simply no evidence offered at trial," wrote the court, "to dispute the fact that plaintiff suffered some injury to her ankle, cervical spine and lumbar spine as a proximate result of the May 20, 2010 accident and that defendant's negligence in causing the accident was a direct and proximate cause of these injuries." The jury's verdict was against the evidence, and the court granted the plaintiff's motion to set aside.