The Connecticut Superior Court Judicial District of Hartford has granted the plaintiff’s motion for additur in a Connecticut medical malpractice case, adding $20,861.57 in economic damages to the jury’s verdict, because the jury failed to award the stipulated costs of medical care and funeral expenses, which the court held was a mistake and contrary to the law and the court’s instructions. However, the court’s May 12, 2015 Memorandum of Decision refused to grant the plaintiff’s request for additur for other economic damages and noneconomic damages, and denied the plaintiff’s motion for new trial if the parties agree to the additur.
What Is An Additur?
In Connecticut, the court must set aside the jury’s verdict when it finds that the verdict does manifest injustice and is palpably against the evidence, applying the test whether the award of damages falls somewhere within the necessarily uncertain limits of fair and reasonable compensation in the particular case, or whether the verdict so shocks the sense of justice as to compel the conclusion that the jury was influenced by partiality, mistake, or corruption.
When analyzing a party’s post-trial motion that challenges a jury’s verdict, the court is required to view the trial evidence in the light most favorable to sustaining the verdict – an award of damages should not be set aside where it is apparent that there was some evidence on which the jury might reasonably have reached its conclusion.
Connecticut’s General Statutes Section 52-216a provides, in part, “If the court concludes that the verdict is inadequate as a matter of law, it shall order an additur, and upon failure of the party so ordered to add the amount ordered by the court, it shall set aside the verdict and order a new trial.”
In the Connecticut medical malpractice case, the jury had determined that the defendant physician had deviated from the standard of care in one of the specified ways and that the defendant’s deviation was a substantial factor in producing the plaintiff’s decedent’s injuries and death. The jury awarded the plaintiff $150,000 in noneconomic damages, zero for economic damages, and zero damages for the plaintiff’s loss of consortium claim.
In deciding the plaintiff’s post-trial motion, the court stated that it did not find that the award of $150,000 in noneconomic damages shocked its conscience, referencing the length of time that the jury deliberated over several days. With regard to the stipulated economic damages, the court noted that the parties had stipulated to the hospital and ambulance bills and the funeral bill, and the jury was instructed, “Economic damages are monies awarded as compensation for monetary losses and expenses which have been incurred as a result of the defendant’s negligence.” Inasmuch as Connecticut’s wrongful death statute expressly authorizes the recovery of reasonably necessary medical and funeral expenses, the court found that the jury’s failure to award the stipulated costs of medical care and funeral expenses was a mistake, contrary to the law, and contrary to the court’s jury instructions. The court therefore ordered an additur in the amount of $20,861.57, which was the amount of the stipulated medical and funeral bills.
Source Cox v. Pickering, M.D., Docket No. HHD CV 11 6025013 S.
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