Abernathy v. Superior Hardwoods, Inc.

704 F.2d 963 (7th Cir. 1983)

 

RULE:

The state and federal standards for setting aside a verdict as excessive happen to be "virtually identical," as noted by a federal district judge who is a former Indiana appellate judge, Both Indiana and the Seventh Circuit allow the trial judge to set aside the jury's verdict only if it is grossly excessive, and in both systems appellate review of his refusal to do so is extremely limited because of his superior ability, by virtue of having observed the jury at first hand, to assess its fairness and competence. The court would not set aside a jury's verdict as excessive unless there was no rational connection between the evidence on damages and the verdict, unless, in other words, the verdict was monstrously excessive, or in the equivalent formulation of the Indiana courts so excessive as to be flagrantly outrageous and extravagant

FACTS:

A truck driver was injured when a log rolled off his truck which was being unloaded by employees of a sawmill. The truck driver and his wife recovered a judgment after a general jury verdict in a diversity action against the sawmill. Appellant sawmill challenged the decision, alleging that the verdict was excessive and as such, the appellant was entitled to a new trial.

ISSUE:

Is the appellant entitled to a new trial in light of the alleged excessiveness of the verdict?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The court determined that if the appellees were willing to accept a remittitur of $ 138,204.39 of the judgment it would affirm the judgment as so modified, but otherwise it would remand for a new trial limited to damages because the court determined that the general damage award was not based on any conceivable evidence in the record.

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