Sunday, March 24, 2013

Rael v. F & S Co. case brief

Rael v. F & S Co. case brief summary
612 P.2d 1318 (N.M. Ct. App. 1979)

Defendant, a seller of fireworks, sought review of the judgment of the District Court of Bernalillo County (New Mexico), in favor of plaintiff, the father of a child injured by the sudden explosion of a firework.

OVERVIEW: In the case of a child injured by a fireworks explosion, a jury returned a verdict in favor of the injured child. The seller of the fireworks challenged the judgment, seeking indemnity from the fireworks supplier and contending that the trial court erred in granting an instruction permitting an award of damages for future pain and suffering. The court reversed the judgment.

The seller could not obtain indemnity from the supplier on negligence or on a product liability theory because the parties were in pari delicto.

-The court further held that the trial court erred in instructing the jury that they could award damages for future pain and suffering, where there was no evidence that the child's injury was causing, or would continue to cause, his headaches.
-The court, reasoning that it was not possible to determine what portion of the damages were attributable to future pain and suffering, ordered a new trial on the issue of damages alone.

-Damages based on surmise, conjecture or speculation cannot be sustained.
-Damages must be proved with reasonable certainty.
-There is no exception to the above rule for future damages.
-The ultimate fact which the plaintiff has the burden of proving is future damages reasonably certain to occur as a result of the original injury.

OUTCOME: The court reversed the judgment and remanded the case for a new trial on the issue of damages.

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