L. Ed. 603 (1935) (holding that additur violates the Constitution's Seventh Amendment right to a jury verdict).
Plaintiff's grounds for seeking a new trial on damages are that the jury's zero verdicts for Craig Smith's pain and suffering and for the monetary value of his services, care and assistance to the plaintiff were contrary to the law and contrary to the weight of the evidence.
. Decedent's pain and suffering
Plaintiff draws the Court's attention to a number of cases where the jury found liability by the defendant but did not award damages for pain and suffering, after which the court ordered a new trial on damages only. See Levesque v. Marine Drilling Co., 783 F. Supp. 302 (E.D. Tex. 1992) (where seaman was injured while obeying the orders of a superior); Davis v. Becker & Associates, Inc., 608 F.2d 621 (5th Cir. 1979) (finding that jury's award of zero pain and suffering damages could not be reconciled with its award of four years lost wages for plaintiff's 1975 accident, when nothing in the trial record supported defendant's theory that all of plaintiff's pain and suffering was due to an earlier, noncompensable accident); Pagan v. Shoney's, Inc., 931 F.2d 334 (5th Cir. 1991) (finding that the failure to award general damages for pain and suffering was error under Louisiana state law when the jury had awarded damages for loss of earnings and medical expenses).
It is undeniable that a large number of cases stand for the proposition that, when the jury fails to make an award for pain and suffering, the court may order a new trial on damages. However, the court is under no obligation to do so. Manes v. Metro-North Commuter R.R., 801 F. Supp. 954 (D. Conn.) ("While the awarding of past and future lost earnings and medical expenses without a finding of damages for pain and suffering is unusual, it is not necessarily an inconsistency that as a matter of law, let alone error would require this court to grant . . . a new trial."). Rather, if there is an apparent inconsistency in a jury verdict, the trial judge is obligated to uphold it if there is any way to justify it. Palmer v. City of Monticello, 31 F.3d 1499, 1505 (10th Cir. 1994). Here one explanation is that the jury simply declined to make an additional award for pain and suffering beyond the $ 898,665.00 in damages it awarded for the pecuniary loss to the plaintiff and the loss of guidance and counsel to the minor daughter. Because this explanation is reasonable and the verdict is not so inadequate as to be entirely disproportionate to the plaintiff's injury, a new trial is not warranted on this theory.
. Decedent's services, care and assistance to the plaintiff
Plaintiff also cites cases in which, when liability by the defendant was found but no damages were awarded for the value of the decedent's care and services, a new trial was ordered on damages only. See Grant v. Williams, 190 So. 2d 23 (Fla. App. 1966) (emphasizing the discretion given to the trial judge in affirming his decision to order a new trial); Hogue v. Wilson, 51 A.D.2d 424, 381 N.Y.S.2d 921 (App. Div. 1976) (finding plaintiff's recovery for permanent personal injury to be so inadequate as to warrant a new trial on damages when her recovery was less than her medical expenses); Ford Motor Company v. McDavid, 259 F.2d 261 (4th Cir.), cert. denied 358 U.S. 908, 3 L. Ed. 2d 229, 79 S. Ct. 234 (1958) (finding evidence insufficient to support jury's verdict against the defendant auto manufacturer which did not have custody and control over car when it was altered at dealership). A review of each of these cases indicates that the motion for new trial on damages was granted based on individual fact issues, and was upheld because of the broad discretion given to the trial judge to grant or deny such motions. Accordingly, these cases need not be followed by this Court.
Once again, the trial judge is obligated to uphold the jury's verdict if possible. Palmer, 31 F.3d at 1505. Here, the factual evidence that Smith provided and would have continued to provide compensable services to the plaintiff was not compelling, and the Court would be remiss if it were to disturb the jury's decision on this issue.
MOTION TO ALTER AND AMEND THE JUDGMENT
Standard Under Rule 59(e)
Motions to alter and amend the judgment are allowed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). The Court may alter and amend a judgment: (1) when there has been an intervening change in the law; (2) when new evidence becomes available after trial; (3) if the court has committed clear legal error; or (4) if the judgment without amendment would create a manifest injustice. North River Insurance Co. v. Cigna Reinsurance Co., 52 F.3d 1194, 1218 (3d Cir. 1995).
Plaintiff moves to amend the judgment to the amount of the jury's full assessment of damages, $ 898,655.00, without any reduction for contributory negligence. She argues that this amendment is necessary because no contributory negligence charge should have been given and the jury should not have been permitted to apportion damages. As discussed above, however, the charge and the apportionment were proper; therefore, no amendment of the judgment is warranted.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court denies plaintiff's motions. An appropriate order follows.
JOEL A. PISANO
United States Magistrate Judge
JOEL A. PISANO, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE:
Presently before the Court are plaintiff's post-trial motion to alter and amend the judgment, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), and her motion for a new trial on damages or, in the alternative, for a new trial generally, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(a). Defendant filed opposition to plaintiff's motions, and the Court decides the matter without oral argument, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78.
For the reasons set forth in the accompanying Opinion,
IT IS, on this 23rd of January, 1997,
ORDERED that plaintiff's motion to alter and amend the judgment is DENIED ; and it is further
ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for a new trial is DENIED ; and it is further
ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for a new trial on damages is DENIED.
JOEL A. PISANO
United States Magistrate Judge