A Claiborne County jury returned a confusing plaintiff verdict Friday afternoon in the silica trial I have been following. The jury’s total verdict awarded total damages of $750,000 and apportioned 10% fault to the defendant MSA. So the plaintiff gets $75,000 right? It’s not that simple.

The plaintiff’s proof and request was for $119,000 in economic damages. But the jury awarded $650,000 in economic damages.

The jury awarded $100,000 in non-economic damages. The plaintiff requested $2 million in non-economic damages.

The fact that the jury awarded much less in non-economic damages than the plaintiff requested usually wouldn’t be a big deal. It happens a lot. But the jury awarding much more than the plaintiff requested in economic damages is odd.  It looks to me like the jury got confused filling out the verdict form and got the economic and non-economic amounts reversed.   

The defense has an argument that the $650,000 in non-economic damages must be reduced to $119,000 consistent with the proof. That would reduce the total judgment to around $21,000. The plaintiff may argue that the court should order a new trial on damages due to the confusing verdict. The defendant will want no part of that.

The defendant may consider putting up $75,000, calling it a win, and going to the house.

The plaintiff was a gentleman in his late 70’s who can do 13 pull-ups and plays the trumpet. Perhaps not the best facts for a case alleging lung damage.

Prior posts on this trial are here, here and here.