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Juries: Always Unpredictable (NY)

June 21, 2019

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In<em> <a href="">Ankney v Mohamad</a>,</em> the plaintiff was struck by a motor vehicle while riding his bicycle adjacent to a public park, sustaining numerous injuries including a commuted displaced fracture of the clavical, a fractured scapula and three fractured ribs. The matter ultimately proceeded to trial on the sole issue of damages, where plaintiff relied upon certified medical records confirming each of his injuries, as well as testimony of his own pain and suffering, which included over one hundred physical therapy sessions over the course of a year. Notably, defendant made no attempt to contest the cause or severity of plaintiff’s injuries, offering no evidence at all at trial.   You read that right, a damages only trial with no defense presented to combat the causal nature of the injuries or the severity of the injuries.

Nevertheless, as a testament to the unpredictable nature of a jury trial, the jury returned a verdict finding that plaintiff had suffered no pain and suffering as a result of the accident, despite the overwhelming evidence presented.

Plaintiff immediately moved to set aside the jury verdict, pursuant to CPLR 4404(a), which provides that the verdict in a jury trial may be set aside if there is no rational interpretation of the evidence which would justify the jury’s conclusion. Not surprisingly, the court agreed with plaintiff, noting that “[t]his Court has never seen a verdict which so obviously must be set aside. There is no possibility that any rational person could under any circumstances ever find that [plaintiff]… endured no pain and suffering.” As such, the verdict was set aside and a new trial was ordered.

While defense attorneys always seek low verdicts, this finding was a loss for the defense, as they now have to spend more money trying this case all over again.

Thanks to Tyler Rossworn for his contribution to this post.  Please contact <a href="">Georgia Coats</a> if you have any questions.


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