Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a New Mexico truck accident case affirming a $164 million jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss whether the significant jury award was permissible under state law. Finding that there was no reason to reject the jury’s determination, the court affirmed the jury’s verdict.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff’s wife, daughter, and son were traveling a few miles per hour in the right-most lane of the highway when a Fed Ex truck slammed into the back of the family’s vehicle. The damage was tremendous, and the plaintiff’s wife and daughter were both killed in the collision. The plaintiff’s nineteen-month-old son survived despite sustaining serious injuries.
The plaintiff brought a negligence and wrongful death lawsuit against several parties, including Fed Ex and the driver of the truck, who was an independent contractor for Fed Ex. The case proceeded to a jury trial, and after the conclusion of the evidence the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. The verdict consisted of several different categories of damages, but the total award was nearly $165 million. The economic damages awarded by the jury were roughly 1-3% of the total award; the rest being non-economic damages.
For a reason that is not important to this appeal, the judge overseeing the trial recused himself from the post-trial motions, and the case was passed on to another judge. In post-trial motions, the defendants seek a new trial or, in the alternative, aim to modify the judgment, arguing that the award was excessive. That judge denied the defendants’ motion and the defendants appealed.
The Appellate Decision
On appeal, the defendants made several claims as to why the award was improper. First, they claimed that it was not supported by the evidence. However, the court painstakingly reviewed the details of the accident and the effect it had on the plaintiff and his surviving son. Finding that the evidence did support the jury’s verdict, this claim was rejected.
The defendants also claimed that the award was improper because the non-economic damages were too high as a proportion of total damages, consisting of only 1-3% of the total award amount. The defendants also claimed that there had never been this significant of an award in this type of case. The court rejected both of these arguments, declining to use “mathematical ratios” to reduce a personal injury award that was issued by the jury. The court explained that the jury was within its right to issue the award, and that the reviewing judge was not in a position to question the jury’s decision. Thus, the award was affirmed.
Have You Been Injured in a New Mexico Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a New Mexico truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated New Mexico personal injury lawyers at the Fine Law Firm have extensive experience representing injury victims in all types of personal injury matters, including New Mexico truck accidents. To learn more, call 505-889-FINE to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with an attorney and to see how we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
More Blog Posts:
Woman Awarded $20 Million After Husband Was Struck by Oncoming Train, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, June 6, 2018.
Car Comes Disconnected from Tow Truck, Crushing City Worker, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, June 20, 2018.