Sunday, March 24, 2013

Giant Food Inc. v. Satterfield case brief

Giant Food Inc. v. Satterfield case brief summary
603 A.2d 877 (Md. App. 1992)

Plaintiff injured customer and defendant grocery store both appealed from a judgment of the Circuit Court for Baltimore County (Maryland) in favor of the injured customer in her personal injury action brought after she slipped and fell in the grocery store.

OVERVIEW: The injured customer slipped and fell in the grocery store and won a verdict against the store in a personal injury action. Both parties appealed and the court vacated the decision.

The court held that the trial court should have given the cautionary jury instruction requested by the store that the injured customer's per diem damages argument was not evidence and that it was for the jury to calculate damages.

-The statements to that effect by the injured customer's counsel and the general instructions made by the court were insufficient in light of the per diem closing argument.
-The injured customer's failure to disclose two witnesses until one week prior to trial was not willful and contumacious so it was not error for the trial court to allow the testimony.
-The trial court properly denied the injured customer's request to submit a punitive damages instruction to the jury because she did not show that the failure to mop up puddles in the produce section was motivated by actual malice.

-Per diem arguments are permissible in some states.
-Upon request or when the trial judge sua sponte deems it appropriate, the jury must be instructed that the per diem argument made by counsel is not evidence but is merely a method suggested by a party for the purposes of calculating damages.
-The jury must further be instructed that an award for pain and suffering is to be based upon the jurors' independent judgment.

OUTCOME: The court vacated the judgment in favor of the injured customer in her personal injury lawsuit against the grocery store.

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