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If the jury must infer from what it sees and hears at the trial that a certain amount of money is warranted as compensation for plaintiff's pain and suffering, there is no justification for prohibiting counsel from making a similar deduction in argument. An attorney is permitted to discuss all reasonable inferences from the evidence. It would be paradoxical to hold that damages in totality are inferable from the evidence but that when this sum is divided into segments representing days, months or years, the inference vanishes.
Plaintiff passenger was involved in an automobile accident in which the driver was killed. Plaintiff brought an action against defendants for the personal injuries he suffered as the result of the accident. In the complaint, plaintiff prayed for $ 61,025.18 in general damages, as well as compensation for medical expenses, loss of earnings, and costs of suit. The trial court informed plaintiff's attorney in chambers that he would not be permitted to mention to the jury "the value of his action in dollars" in a lump sum or as to "any per diem damages such as so many dollars per day, or so many dollars per month" because such was not evidence. In accordance with the request, the counsel confined his arguments on the question of damages to the amount of past and anticipated medical expenses and loss of earnings, a description of plaintiff's injuries, and general statements to the effect that plaintiff was entitled to recover for past and future pain and suffering resulting from the accident. The plaintiff was awarded damages. Plaintiff appealed, arguing, as a matter of law, that the damages were inadequate. According to the plaintiff, the trial court's action in restricting the argument of counsel on the issue of general damages was erroneous and that the error was prejudicial.
The court found that the trial court erred in prohibiting the passenger's counsel from stating in argument to the jury the amount of general damages claimed by the passenger, either in terms of a total sum or of a sum for a time segment. The court found that the trial court's error was prejudicial under Cal. Const. art. VI, § 4 1/2, because it was reasonably probable that a result more favorable to the passenger would have been reached if the trial court had not limited counsel's argument on the question of damages for pain and suffering. The court reversed the judgment and remanded for a retrial on the issue of liability and damages.