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CPLR 5501 requires the trial court to evaluate whether the award deviates from comparable awards

It is well established that the language quoted, although specifically directed to the appellate courts, also applies to the trial court mandating the trial court to review jury awards to determine whether the award is excessive or inadequate. Consequently, review under CPLR 5501 requires the trial court to evaluate whether the award deviates from comparable awards. It is also evident that review of jury verdicts for personal injury to ascertain whether the award is reasonable. If such principles are to be accorded weight, when reviewing the sufficiency or excessiveness of jury awards, the trial court should not blindly substitute its judgment, without affording considerable deference to the jury’s interpretation of the evidence.

Defendant referred this Court to several cases in an effort to convince the Court that the award, in the instant case, is not fair and reasonable. The Court also heard the arguments raised by counsel for each party and reviewed the cases cited by counsel which purport to support each party’s position regarding the verdict. At the outset, this court acknowledges that the verdict rendered by the jury in the case at bar is unprecedented in view of the evidence presented regarding plaintiff’s injuries and the jury award clearly exceeds what can be considered fair and reasonable.

Defendant’s counsel submitted approximately eighteen (18) prior verdicts to “enlighten the court and in a sense, may constrain it” to support the contention that the award for pain and suffering cannot be justified. As previously stated, this Court recognizes that the jury award which approximates $86 million deviates from what can be considered fair and reasonable. However, this recognition regarding the size of the verdict in the instant case does not automatically carry with it the court’s determination that the award falls within the boundaries which Lane suggests would be a fair and reasonable award for the plaintiff, who concededly is a paraplegic experiencing constant pain.

Defendant’s counsel in his supporting affirmation and defendant’s Appellant Counsel, in correspondence dated June 18, 2004. The plaintiff, sustained serious and permanent injury when he fell through a fiberglass panel on the roof to a concrete floor below. The jury awarded plaintiff $23,368,209 in damages “based in part upon its findings that plaintiff had a life expectancy of 38.1 years and a working life expectancy of 22 years.” The judgment below was appealed and the jury award of $2 million for future medical expenses was modified to an award no greater than $750,000. The reduction made by the Appellate Division, was based on the finding that award for future medical expenses was based in part on speculation. This Court, does not find in the case at bar, that the jury’s award of future medical expenses including future hospitalization was based on mere speculation. The life expectancy of the plaintiff as presented to the jury by the court’s charge was not binding on the jury. Nevertheless, the court will not speculate that the jury’s award of $10 million for future medical expenses included adding interest compounded to the medical costs projected by plaintiff’s experts. Therefore, that portion of the award for future medical expenses should be reduced to reflect the projections of future medical related expenses by plaintiff’s economist.

With respect to defendant’s contention that the award for pain and suffering deviates from reasonable compensation, counsel direct the Court’s attention to several cases where the plaintiff purportedly sustained similar or more significant injuries than the plaintiff in the instant action.

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