Friday, December 27, 2013

Dimick v. Schiedt case brief

Dimick v. Schiedt case brief summary
293 U.S. 474 (1935)

The Supreme Court granted certiorari to review a judgment of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which reversed a judgment for damages in an action for personal injuries, entered on the denial of respondent's motion for a new trial after declining to accept an increase offered by the court and agreed to by petitioner.

Respondent brought suit against petitioner to recover damages for a personal injury resulting from the alleged negligent operation of an automobile on a public highway. The jury returned a verdict in favor of respondent for the sum of $500. Respondent moved for a new trial. The trial court ordered a new trial, unless petitioner would consent to an increase of the damages to the sum of $1500. Petitioner consented to the increase, and a denial of the motion for new trial automatically followed. The court of appeals reversed the judgment, holding that the conditional order violated respondent's U.S. Constitutional Amendment VII right to trial by jury.


  • On certiorari, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals because the trial court had no power to increase the damages to a reasonable sum instead of ordering a new trial. 
  • It could not be held with any semblance of reason that the trial court with the consent of petitioner only may by assessing an additional amount of damages bring the constitutional right of respondent's right to a jury trial to an end in respect of a matter of fact that no jury has ever passed upon, either explicitly or by implication.
The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals' holding that the trial court's conditional order violated respondent's right to a trial by jury because the trial court was without the power to condition the allowance of a motion for a new trial upon the refusal of petitioner to consent to an increase in the amount of damages.

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