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Florida Third DCA reverses and remands for new trial after jury awards slip and fall plaintiff damages for past medical expenses but not for past noneconomic damages

On December 16, 2020, in Cabrera v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, No. 3d19-2301, the Florida Third DCA reversed a trial court judgment in a premises liability slip and fall case which had resulted in a jury award for past economic damages, but a zero award as to past noneconomic damages and future damages.  The Third DCA concluded that the jury’s refusal to award future damages was not reversible given that the need for future damages remained in contention throughout the trial, particularly in light of the plaintiff’s inability to obtain medical clearance for surgery and failure to consistently treat with her physician. Regarding past noneconomic damages, the Court stated that “[t]he relevant decisions inform us that where ‘the trial evidence of the existence of such is substantially undisputed,’ and ‘when a jury finds that the plaintiff suffered injuries that required treatment as evidenced by an award of past medical expenses,’ a verdict devoid of past noneconomic damages is inadequate, as a matter of law [quoting from Arias v. Porter, 276 So. 3d 49, 56 (Fla. 2d DCA 2019)].”  Accordingly, the Third DCA reversed and remanded for a new trial solely on the issue of past noneconomic damages.