The Tennessee Supreme Court recently looked at a case involving a multi-truck wreck and a high jury verdict ($3,705,000). The case can be found here.
What Happened During and After the Truck Wreck
In 2009, three tractor-trailers were involved in an interstate accident. The Plaintiff, who was driving a tractor-trailer, was forced to stop due to traffic and was subsequently rear-ended by a tractor-trailer. A third tractor-trailer then collided with the second truck. The Plaintiff was diagnosed with a central disk herniation at L4-L5 and was forced to stop working as a truck driver. Years of treatment and litigation ensued.
Supreme Court Weighs in on Remittitur
This truck wreck case has several fancy legal elements, including remittitur, cause in fact, proximate causation, superseding causation. For the purposes of this blog, let’s just focus on just the concept of remittitur. Remittitur is basically when a court or judge reduces the jury award. If you want a little more information on remittitur click here.
You might be thinking, well what’s the purpose of our constitutional right to a jury trial, then? Isn’t a jury of our peers supposed to review the evidence presented and decide the case? If you’re thinking this, you may find the “13th juror” rule (remittitur) puzzling. It’s ok. Just know remittitur has been around for a long time. But, keep in mind, Tennessee lawmakers did impose caps on noneconomic damages via T.C.A. § 29-39-102 in 2011.
A jury trial often requires years of work, preparation, and much expense. So, when a Plaintiff wins a jury trial, facing the possibility of remittitur at the trial and appellate levels is understandably a tough pill to swallow. So, the fact that Tennessee lawmakers have placed caps on a jury’s ability to award noneconomic damages only protects insurance companies at the expense of injured Plaintiffs.