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Richardet v. Murdale True Value

June 1, 2009

KENNETH J. RICHARDET, LESLIE RICHARDET, EUGENE B. STURM, AND VIRGINIA C. STURM, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
MURDALE TRUE VALUE, INC., AND KEVIN D. HARRISON, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

A. Introduction

A January 2007 vehicular collision on a bridge between Kentucky and Illinois resulted in injuries to the drivers and passengers of two cars, all four of whom sued the driver of a truck (Kevin D. Harrison) and his employer (Murdale True Value) in this United States District Court. The lawsuit culminated in a five-day jury trial before the undersigned Judge in March 2009.

The jury returned verdicts in favor of the four Plaintiffs and against both Defendants in an amount totaling $113,000. Judgment was entered accordingly on March 13, 2009. Six days later, Plaintiffs moved for a new trial. The parties timely and fully briefed that motion by May 11, 2009. For the reasons stated below, the Court must deny the motion for new trial.

B. Analysis

The jurors returned separate verdicts for the four Plaintiffs as follows. For Kenneth Richardet, the jury awarded $118,654 in damages less $97,654 (based on failure to mitigate damages) for $21,000 in total recoverable damages. For Leslie Richardet, the jury awarded $24,000 -- comprised of $14,000 in pain and suffering (past and future) plus $10,000 in reasonable medical expenses. For Eugene Sturm, the jury awarded $27,000 -- comprised of $7,000 in pain and suffering (past and future) plus $20,000 in reasonable medical expenses. For Virginia Sturm, the jury awarded $41,000 -- comprised of $15,000 in pain & suffering (past and future) plus $26,000 in reasonable medical expenses.

Plaintiffs maintain that each of these verdicts is inadequate. More specifically, Plaintiffs argue that a new trial is needed for five reasons (Doc. 88):

(1) Kenneth Richardet's verdict was inadequate and against the weight of the evidence, because it failed to reflect "the uncontroverted testimony of his primary treating physician with respect to the issue of causation" and damages;

(2) Leslie Richardet's verdict was inadequate and against the clear weight of the evidence, because it failed to reflect "the uncontroverted testimony of her primary care physician with respect to the issue of causation" and damages;

(3) Eugene Sturm's verdict was inadequate and against the weight of the evidence, because it failed to reflect "the uncontroverted testimony of his primary care physician with respect to the issue of causation" and damages;

(4) Virginia Sturm's verdict was inadequate and against the weight of the evidence, because it failed to reflect "the uncontroverted testimony of her primary care physician with respect to the issue of causation" and damages; and

(5) The four verdicts were "unfair and factually inconsistent."

Plaintiffs maintain, based on the verdicts, that the jury disregarded unrebutted testimony by Plaintiffs' own treating physicians establishing a causal relationship between the accident and Plaintiffs' injuries, that the jurors ignored testimony regarding the nature and extent of those injuries (e.g., permanent disability or extensive pain and suffering), and that the jury credited unreliable testimony of defense experts (specifically, Dr. Atkinson who testified that Virginia Sturm's hip problem was caused by psoriatic arthritis, not the car crash).

Plaintiffs' disappointment with the verdicts is understandable. They presented extensive evidence and recovered only a fraction of the damages they sought from the jury. But the record before the Court does not support the grant of a new trial. Analysis begins with reference to the applicable ...


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