A jury verdict for a plaintiff awarding zero damages in a cause of action sounding in negligence is ambiguous because it is inherently inconsistent to state, on the same verdict form, that a plaintiff has prevailed in proving the cause of action while simultaneously stating that the plaintiff has not proven an element of the cause of action. The jury reasonably could have found the following facts. William Arnold, driving from a stop light, applied his brakes and was struck from behind by a vehicle driven by Carol Moriarty. The parties confirmed that both were physically well and only minor damage occurred to the vehicles. They did not call police. Arnold filed this action alleging, relevantly, negligence against Moriarity in the operation of the motor vehicle. At trial, the jury heard conflicting expert testimony on whether the accident exacerbated the plaintiff's multiple previous back injuries. Following the accident, but before trial, the plaintiff also suffered pancreatitis almost resulting in his death and a gunshot wound hospitalizing him for more than 60 days. The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff on the negligence count awarding zero damages. The court returned the jury after issuing instructions. The jury sent a note asking what verdict form to use as it believed Moriarity was negligent but no monetary award was appropriate. The court directed the jury to complete the verdict for the defendant form, which it did. The court entered judgment accordingly. The plaintiff appealed claiming, first, that the court improperly directed the verdict. The Appellate Court affirmed the judgment. The trial court did not direct the verdict. The court properly instructed the jury and rendered a judgment in accordance with the jury's verdict. The initial verdict returned was inconsistent because the form indicated a verdict for the plaintiff while determining that the plaintiff had not proven damages—an essential element of a negligence cause of action. The court recognized this ambiguity and properly reinstructed the jury and returned it for further deliberations. The jury again stated its determination that the plaintiff did not prove damages. The court then properly directed the use of the verdict for the defendant form in accordance with the jury's determination. Further, the verdict was reasonable. The court did not abuse its discretion in denying the plaintiff's motion to set aside the verdict. A jury verdict for a plaintiff awarding zero damages in a cause of action sounding in negligence is ambiguous because it is inherently inconsistent to state, on the same verdict form, that a plaintiff has prevailed in proving the cause of action while simultaneously stating that the plaintiff has not proven an element of the cause of action.

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