Westmere Group Inc. v. Town of Darien
A court can set aside a jury's verdict only when the verdict is clearly exorbitant and excessive, or the size of the verdict is so shocking to a sense of justice that it leads us to the conclusion that the jury was influenced by prejudice, partiality, mistake or corruption, pursuant to Gilliard v. Van-Court Property Management Services, a 2001 decision of the Connecticut Appellate Court. Allegedly, the plaintiff developer, Westmere Group Inc., was working to develop a subdivision for which septic systems would not have been adequate. It decided to construct a sewer line that would service the properties in the subdivision and connect to the municipal sewer. In 1999, the plaintiff entered into a developer's agreement with the defendant municipality. Work on the sewer line to service the properties in the subdivision was not finished until 2005. The following year, the municipality constructed a sewer line that connected to the Westmere sewer line. The plaintiff sued the municipality, alleging breach of contract and unjust enrichment. A jury awarded $118,987 on unjust enrichment. The municipality filed a motion to set aside the verdict and for a remittitur. Although there were no interrogatories, it appeared to the court that the jury could have awarded out-of-pocket expenses of $52,987 plus 50 percent of the $132,000 claimed for the time of the plaintiff's principals. Regardless of the method used by the jury to compute damages, the result was not contrary to the evidence and failed to shock the court's conscience. "Given the equitable nature of the jury determination and the fact that it represents approximately 2/3 of the plaintiff's claim," wrote the court, "the court cannot characterize the result as shocking or a clear error as a matter of law." The court denied the defendant's motion to set aside and for remittitur. The court also denied the plaintiff's motion to set aside and for an additur, which argued it cost $184,987 to operate and maintain the sewer and pump station. Even if the amount the plaintiff requested was undisputed, the jury was not obligated to award damages for unjust enrichment in that amount.