Articles Posted in Damages

The defendant appealed from a judgment entered after a jury verdict in a Michigan premises liability action. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the trial judge’s denial of the defendant’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The appeals court also affirmed the trial judge’s denial of the defendant’s motion for a new trial as to damages with the exception of those based upon past and future medical expenses.chair

While shopping at the defendant’s store, the plaintiff asked for assistance with some folding metal chairs that were located on a top shelf. An employee attempted to manipulate that stack of chairs, and they fell from the top shelf onto the plaintiff’s head. The plaintiff sued the defendant’s corporation, which, though it contested fault, did not contest that if the jury found its employee at fault, it would be liable under respondeat superior.

On appeal, the defendant first contended that the trial court erred by denying its motion for a directed verdict, in which it claimed that it had no duty to the plaintiff, based on the open and obvious danger doctrine. The appeals court agreed with the trial court that this motion was properly denied on both procedural and substantive grounds.

After a jury trial, the court entered a $14,439.91 judgment for plaintiff Molly Pietila following a ski accident with Kent Wisotzke. Pietila appealed, claiming that the trial court erred when it denied her a new trial on the issue of non-economic damages. The Michigan Court of Appeals recently reversed and remanded.

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The evidence at trial showed that Pietila and Wisotzke collided on Marquette Mountain. Both suffered injuries. Wisotzke experienced a severe concussion and two broken bones in his right hand. Pietila was hospitalized for almost two weeks for multiple fractures of her eye socket, face, and skull. The plaintiff also broke her jaw, nose, knee, and hand. Her nose was entirely flattened, and she underwent multiple surgeries to reconstruct her face.

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According to a report published by the Senate Fiscal Agency, the state of Michigan paid roughly $41.8 million in verdicts and settlements in the last fiscal year. This amount is substantially less than what Michigan taxpayers paid last year, but more than the average amount over the past decade.money-300x225

Michigan doled out over $70 million for lawsuits in 2014, roughly $86 million in 2013, and over $76 million in the previous year. 2012 had a substantial swell in legal payments from 2011, in which the state paid roughly $16 million. In 2006, Michigan paid only $9.4 million. The significant jump from 2011 to 2012 was due to lawsuits over Michigan’s business taxes. Numbers lowered this year because there were no major payments for business tax cases.

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