Song v. Collins
A jury can issue a defense verdict in a legal-malpractice case, if the jury credits the testimony of the defendant's expert witness or decides that the plaintiff did not meet the burden of proof, by a preponderance of the evidence. The plaintiff, Jing Hong Song, sued the defendant, Kevin Collins, alleging breach of contract, legal malpractice and violation of CUTPA, the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. In response to the interrogatory, "Did the plaintiff prove, by a fair preponderance of the evidence, the standard of care applicable to the defendant?" the jury answered, "No." The jury also returned a defense verdict on the breach of contract and CUTPA counts. The plaintiff moved to set aside the defense verdict on the legal-malpractice count and argued that the jury's answer was against the evidence. "A verdict should not be set aside . . . where it is apparent that there was some evidence on which the jury might reasonably have reached its conclusion," pursuant to Marchell v. Whelchel, a 2001 decision of the Connecticut Appellate Court. "[I]f there is a reasonable basis in the evidence for the jury's verdict, unless there is a mistake in law or some other valid basis for upsetting the result other than a difference of opinion regarding the conclusions to be drawn from the evidence, the trial court should let the jury work their will," pursuant to Jacobs v. Goodspeed, a 1980 decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court. The Superior Court found that the jury could have credited the testimony of the defendant's expert witness or decided that the plaintiff did not meet the burden of proof, by a preponderance of the evidence. The litigants possessed the right to have the jury decide the facts. The Superior Court was not persuaded that the jury did not correctly apply the law to the facts. The court denied the plaintiff's motion to set aside the verdict.