In Garrison v. Lapine, 2010 N.Y. Slip. Op. 03515 (3d Dept. April 29, 2010), the Appellate Division, Third Department, affirmed the trial court’s denial of defendant’s motion to set aside the verdict. This case was commenced by plaintiff and her husband, derivatively, to recover damages resulting from injuries sustained by plaintiff in an automobile accident. Defendants conceded liability but a jury trial was held to determine, among other things, causation and damages. After a finding that the plaintiff had suffered a significant limitation of the use of a body function or system, as well as a permanent consequential limitation of the use of a body organ or member, the jury awarded plaintiff $500,000 for past pain and suffering and $2 million for future pain and suffering for a period of 31 years. In addition, the jury awarded plaintiff’s husband $400,000 for loss of consortium.
Defendants moved to set aside the verdict, asserting that the damage award deviated materially from what would be reasonable compensation. However, the lower court denied this motion and the appellate court affirmed. The Appellate Court reiterated the rule that to successfully challenge a determination as to the amount of damages to be awarded, the records evidence must preponderate in favor of the moving party to such a degree that the verdict could not have been reached on any fair interpretation of the evidence. The Court held that defendant did not meet this burden, and in view of the evidence on the record concluded that the jury’s verdict was amply supported by a fair interpretation of the evidence and the damages awarded were well within the range of reasonable compensation.