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The Case Of The Calculating Jury

June 8, 2010

Mark Tinker, a shareholder in the St. Petersburg office, was recently retained to defend an appeal of a suspect jury verdict. Our client had caused a rear-end accident, and the plaintiff claimed significant injuries. The jury awarded $178,652.15 in damages – both economic and noneconomic – but then assigned liability 21.678% against our client, and 88.322% against the plaintiff. Adjusting the verdict for those numbers, the final award was thus $38,728.21. That was the amount of the plaintiff’s medical bills. Ordinarily, juries are not permitted to use one portion of a verdict to influence another. That appears to be what the jury did here. It used the liability percentages to reduce the damage award to a target number – the medical bills. The plaintiff thus appealed. Mr. Tinker argued that, while the method the jury employed was unorthodox, the result was nevertheless proper. It is inconceivable that 6 people could go through the calculations it did, and carry liability figures out to the thousandth percentile, if it did not want to award a precise figure – one which matched the medical bill evidence. The Second District agreed and thus affirmed that favorable result. Mark D. Tinker
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