JSH Reporter Summer 2016 - Page 13

LARGEJURYVERDICTARTICLE 013 ALTHOUGH A REMITTED DAMAGES AWARD MAY BE REJECTED BY THE OPPOSING PARTY, IT IS A VALUABLE TOOL THAT CAN BE USED TO ACHIEVE A REASONABLE SETTLEMENT. What can the Court Consider In Determining the Proper Remittitur? In determining a proper remittitur, the court may compare a jury’s verdict to awards in cases with comparable injuries. See Alabama Freight Lines v. Thevonot, 68 Ariz. 260, 263-264, 204 P.2d 1050, 1052 (1949) (trial court compared jury’s verdict to awards in cases with comparable injuries in determining that remittitur was appropriate); Standard Oil Co. of Cal. v. Shields, 58 Ariz. 239, 247, 119 P.2d 116, 119-120 (1941) (noting that while no two cases are alike and damages must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, the excessiveness of the jury’s verdict was further indicated by its comparison to verdicts awarded in other similar cases). Comparable jury verdicts can be effectively presented to the court through a compendium of jury verdicts for similar injuries, or through some other form of reporting provided by an independent research service. Keep in mind… Remittitur may work best in cases in which fault is contested. That is because both sides bear the risk of losing on liability and damages. When fault is conceded, however, and the jury returns an excessive verdict, the plaintiff’s view of damages is likely to be bolstered. Moving for remittitur is therefore usually a more persuasive tool in cases where fault is at issue. It is also important to consider your judge. The judge who presided over your trial is likely to be the same judge who will rule on your motion for remittitur. You will therefore want to consider the court’s previous rulings, as well as the overall tone of the proceedings, in gauging the likelihood of a remittitur. ABOUT THE AUTHOR WHITNEY HARVEY Whitney practices in general civil litigation, wrongful death and personal injury, commercial and business litigation, and dram shop and social host liability. She is on the Social Committee for the Arizona Women Lawyers Association and has served on the State Bar of Arizona’s Committee on Minorities & Women in the Law. Contact Whitney at 602.263.1744 or wharvey@jshfirm.com