High Stress Job? No Damages (NY)
In New York, the plaintiff in Mehmeti v Miller commenced an action to recover damages for personal injuries he sustained to his head and left arm as a result of a motor accident. Following a jury trial on the issue of damages, the jury found that the plaintiff had suffered a permanent consequential limitation of use of a body function, organ, or member and awarded the plaintiff $50,000 for 4 years and 2 months of past pain and suffering, $58,900 for 38 years of future pain and suffering, $26,100 for past medical expenses, $165,000 for 38 years of future medical expenses, and $0 for future lost earnings.
Following the jury trial, the plaintiff moved pursuant to CPLR 4404(a) for an additur or, in the alternative, to set aside the verdict and for a new trial on the issue of damages, arguing that the damages verdict was contrary to the weight of the evidence and patently inconsistent with the jury’s unanimous finding that the plaintiff suffered a permanent consequential limitation of use of a body function, organ, or member.
The Supreme Court denied the plaintiff’s motion, determining that a valid line of reasoning and permissible inferences existed to support a conclusion that the plaintiff sustained only a fibrocartilage injury to his left wrist and an insignificant head injury within the meaning of Insurance Law § 5102(d). The court also determined that the damages award did not deviate materially from what would be reasonable compensation for the injury sustained.
A major reason the Supreme Court denied plaintiff’s motion was that plaintiff returned to work three days after the accident. Moreover, additional support was provided for the Supreme Court’s denial because the duties of plaintiff’s job were considered “high stress.” The plaintiff continued working full-time throughout the trial at a job that included responding to fire alarms, protecting against active shooters, as well as supervising nearly 90 employees. The Supreme Court of New York Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department affirmed the order. Going forward it seems as if whether the plaintiff’s position is “high stress” or not could be a threshold test to consider whether defendants need to pay for future lost earnings.
Thanks to Cory Maiorana for his contribution to this post. Please contact Heather Aquino with any questions.