Sunday, March 24, 2013

Loth v. Truck-A-Way Corp. case brief

Loth v. Truck-A-Way Corp. case brief summary
70 Cal. Rptr. 2d 571 (Cal. Ct. App. 1998)

Defendants, the owner of a truck and its employee driver, challenged a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California), which incorporated a jury's general verdict awarding plaintiff motorist $ 890,000 for injuries sustained in car accident with defendant employee after the jury had heard expert evidence, and was instructed, on "hedonic" damages.

-In her personal injury suit filed after an automobile accident with defendants, a truck owner and its employee driver, the jury awarded plaintiff motorist general damages of $ 890,000.
-Defendants challenged, arguing that the trial erred in admitting the testimony of an expert economist who used dollar amounts society spent on safety measures to calculate the baseline value of plaintiff's projected remaining life, adjusted that baseline for plaintiff's personal attributes, and opined that "hedonic" damages for loss of life's enjoyment should be calculated by multiplying the adjusted baseline by plaintiff's percentage of disability.
-The trial court issued separate instructions on pain and suffering and on loss of life's enjoyment.

The court reversed, holding that loss of enjoyment was a component of pain and suffering damages, and the two instructions could have resulted in an award of double damages.

It was also error to admit the expert testimony, because the loss of enjoyment damages was within the jury's ken and because the expert's baseline figure was arbitrary.

-The jury must impartially determine pain and suffering damages based upon evidence specific to the plaintiff, as opposed to statistical data concerning the public at large.
-The only person whose pain and suffering is relevant in calculating a general damage award is the plaintiff.
-How others would feel if placed in the plaintiff's position is irrelevant.
-It is improper, for example, for an attorney to ask jurors how much they would charge to undergo equivalent pain and suffering.
-This so-called "golden rule" argument is impermissible.

OUTCOME: The judgment was reversed, and the case was remanded for a new trial. Plaintiff motorist was improperly awarded damages from her car accident with defendant employee, because the trial court erred when it admitted, over objection, expert testimony for calculating "hedonic" damages and when it instructed the jury separately on hedonic damages and on pain and suffering.

Interested in learning how to get the top grades in your law school classes? Want to learn how to study smarter than your competition? Interested in transferring to a high ranked school?


No comments:

Post a Comment

The Evolution of Legal Marketing: From Billboards to Digital Leads Over the last couple of decades, the face of legal marketing has changed a l...