Issue: Was the $3,000,000 award for pain and suffering excessive in a wrongful death case where the award for pain and suffering was 30 times the medical expenses?
In Barrett v. Mulligan, 2010 WL 1404440 (Ky.App.) the Kentucky court of Appeals held that it was not excessive to sustain such an award based on the facts of the case.
In Barrett, Mr. Barrett took his car in to the Defendant’s auto repair shop and had the car’s engine replaced. Id. Plaintiff took his car out of the shop on November 4, 2004 and on November 6, 2004, while the car was parked, the car caught fire and Mr. Barrett was severely burned and taken to the hospital. Id. Plaintiff died 3 days later of his injuries. Id. Thus, the family of the Plaintiff hired a Louisville personal injury lawyer.
The jury awarded $150,000 for the destruction of Plaintiff’s power to labor and earn money and $3,000,000 for pain and suffering. Id. The Defendants appealed. This Court upheld the jury’s decision based on the record of the trial court. Id.
“When presented with a motion for new trial on grounds of excessive damages the trial court is charged with the responsibility of deciding whether the jury’s award appears “to have been given under the influence of passion or prejudice or in disregard of the evidence or the instructions of the court.” (cite omitted). Id. The appellate court is to review the actions of the trial judge. Id. “In short, it is up to the trial judge to use his or her discretion in determining whether the jury’s award is excessive.” Id. The defense argued that 30 times the medical expenses was excessive though they did not cite any case law supporting their theory. Id. Plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer argued against this motion and won.
The Plaintiff was burned over 45% of his body suffering severe burns. Plaintiff was conscious when he was found and during the hospital ride. It took 60 minutes to get to the hospital. Id. It was not until then that he could receive pain medications. Id. He survived for 3 more days in the hospitals’ burn unit. Id. This Appellate Court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in upholding the jury’s $3,000,000 award for pain and suffering. Id.
The Defense also tried to argue that the injuries and death were not proximately caused by the negligence on their part. Id. But, this Court as the trial court did find that it was foreseeable that a person in Plaintiff’s situation could not be able to exit a burning car. Id.
Accordingly, in this Louisville personal injury case, the Plaintiff’s estate was able to obtain a large award for the very unfortunate death of the Plaintiff.
If you have been involved in a Louisville personal injury case that you would like to find out the answers to, please call and speak to Louisville personal injury attorney Andrew S. Alitowski at 888-ASK-ANDREW (275-2637). We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you are injured…Ask Andrew!!!