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No Lost Wages For No Lost Work!

November 17, 2023

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In a recent decision out of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania titled: Butler v. Landmark Property Group, LLC, the Court refused to reverse a damages award in favor of the Plaintiff, specifically his claim for lost wages. 

The “Butlers,” husband and wife, appealed a judgement after trial, arguing that the jury award failed to accurately reflect medical losses and loss of income suffered by Mr. Butler. Specifically, Appellants argued that Mr. Butler suffered $115,000 in lost wages alone in 2018 and 2019.

The Superior Court affirmed the decision, because there “was no evidence that [plaintiff’s] future earning capacity was impaired because of his ankle injury.” Id. at 3. In fact, the court noted that while Mr. Buter had testified that his leg pain was a “ten” and “could not get any worse”, he had returned to work several times through 2018 through 2021 after being cleared to do so. Id. It was not clear, despite his testimony of being in “excruciating” pain, that his damages rose to the requested amount provided his continuing work history. Id.

The Court also agreed that the Butler’s expert had been unreliable at trial, as his statement that Buter could not work due to his ankle conflicted with the in fact that he was the exact same doctor who had cleared Buter to return to work multiple times through 2018. Id.

This case reinforces the prospect that the credibility of witnesses and experts in personal injury cases matter when it comes to the ultimate award of damages. As the Superior court reinforced in its conclusion, “If the verdict bears a reasonable resemblance to the damages proven, we will not upset it merely because we might have awarded different damages.” Id at 4. Here, an uncredible witness and an inconsistent expert resulted in an award the trial court felt reasonable to the damages suffered, even if it was less than what plaintiff sought. Exposing such inconsistencies are critical to an effective defense at trial, especially when the “abuse of discretion” standard of review at the Appellate level remains a high bar to pass in PA courts. 

Butler v. Landmark Property Group LLC
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