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Bronx Trial Judge Tops Jury Award

February 10, 2009

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In <i>Zimmerman v. Bd. of Ed</i>., a Bronx Supreme Court judge recently found that a jury's failure to award damages for future pain and suffering, future lost wages and for a loss of consortium claim was substantially unjust and against the weight of the evidence.
Plaintiff, a teacher, was injured when falling backward on her head while separating two students in a fight. The jury awarded plaintiff $100,000 for past pain and suffering and $300,000 for lost wages. In deciding that this was insufficient, the Court looked to the uncontroverted medical evidence that plaintiff's condition was severe and permanent, and that she could not return to work because of her inability to control her seizures. The Court also looked to other cases involving traumatically induced epilepsy, all of which involved settlements or awards well into the millions.
The Court thus granted plaintiff's motion for a new trial on damages, unless the defendant was willing to stipulate to a judgment of more than $1.3 million -- nearly a million more than the jury's award. A lesson that sometimes, even a brilliant trial verdict may wind up a pyrrhic victory.
Thanks to Stephanie Chen for her contribution.
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