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PA Superior Court Upholds Vacating Jury’s $2.9 Million Mistake

April 8, 2021

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<p style="text-align: justify;"><strong> </strong>In<em> <a href="https://www.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/The-Estate-of-Carley-Long-v.-Bethany-Childrens-Home-et-al..pdf">The Estate of Carley Long v. Bethany Children’s Home, et al.</a></em>, the Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld a Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas’  grant of judgment notwithstanding the verdict, which vacated a Philadelphia County jury award of $2.9 million.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Tragically, Carley Long escaped Bethany Children’s Home and was struck and killed by a train. Her father ultimately sued Bethany Children’s Home, claiming its reckless and negligent care of her daughter caused her death. At trial, the jury (in plaintiff-friendly Philadelphia County) ultimately found Bethany Children’s Home at fault, and awarded the plaintiff a total of $2,925,000.00 in damages.  Bethany Children’s Home filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, which the court granted, vacating the jury verdict. The Estate appealed.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The appellate court reasoned that the Estate failed to meet its burden to show that Bethany Children’s Home acted negligently. Acknowledging whether a defendant caused a plaintiff’s harm is usually submitted to a  jury, the court found that where there is no dispute, causation becomes an issue for the court to decide. The appellate court reasoned further that there was no dispute that Bethany did not act negligently. In holding the jury did not properly weigh the evidence, the appellate court found the Estate failed to meet its burden that Bethany Children’s Home violated any applicable codes or otherwise acted negligently. Accordingly, it affirmed the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas grant of judgment notwithstanding the verdict.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thanks to John Lang for his contribution to this article.  Should you have any questions, please contact <a href="mailto:tbracken@wcmlaw.com">Tom Bracken</a>.</p>

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