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Florida Second DCA reverses trial court order denying plaintiff’s motion for additur of jury verdict that included economic damages but no damages for past pain and suffering

On May 29, 2019, in Arias v. Porter, No. 2D17-4469, a motor vehicle negligence case, the Florida Second DCA reversed a trial court’s denial of the plaintiff’s motion for additur relating to the jury’s failure to award any noneconomic damages.  The defendant had conceded liability before trial, but disputed damages based in part on the argument that the plaintiff did not have a permanent injury from the accident and consequently was not entitled to noneconomic damages under Florida law.  The jury found that the plaintiff had in fact suffered a permanent injury and awarded him substantial damages for past and future medical expenses, but made no award for noneconomic damages, past or future. The plaintiff then moved the trial court for additur, which was denied.  On appeal, the Second DCA noted that although the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that a failure to award noneconomic damages under these circumstances does not mean that the verdict is inadequate as a matter of law, see Allstate Insurance Co. v. Manasse, 707 So. 2d 1110 (Fla. 1998),  “decisions with respect to past and future noneconomic damages have hinged on whether the evidence of such damages is substantially undisputed (if yes, then a zero verdict is inadequate as a matter of law; if no, then it is not) and have simultaneously suggested that an award of past (as distinguished from future) noneconomic damages is required when a jury finds permanency and awards past medical expenses.”  The Second DCA accordingly reversed on the issue of past noneconomic damages but held that trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion for additur as to future noneconomic damages.