In 2016 I covered a $8.5 million (comparative fault reduced it to $3.4 million) Gulfport federal court verdict in Williams v. Manitowoc Cranes. I wrote:
On Thursday a federal court jury in Gulfport rendered an $8.5 million verdict in Williams v. Manitowoc Cranes, LLC. The case involved a crane accident in which the plaintiff suffered a traumatic brain injury. The plaintiffs filed the case in federal court in 2014.
The jury determined that the crane failed to contain adequate warnings of instructions as to the danger of falling counterweights. The jury awarded plaintiff $7 million in economic damages and $1.5 million in non-economic damages.
The verdict was reduced to $3.4 million because the jury apportioned Manitowoc 40% of the fault. The jury apportioned 50% to the employer and 10% to the plaintiff.
On August 3, 2018 the Fifth Circuit affirmed. Here is the Opinion.
Judge Willett drafted the Court’s opinion on a panel with Judges Jolly and Southwick.
Ben Galloway with Owen and Galloway in Gulfport represented the plaintiff with the assistance of Bryan Comer, Jason McCormick and Desmond Tobias from the Tobias, McCormick & Comer firm in Mobile and Clay Rankin from Fairhope.
Walter Boone and Matthew McDade with Balch & Bingham represented Manitowoc.
The Defendant’s big problem on appeal was the standard of review. All the appeal arguments were reviewed under an abuse of discretion or similar standard.
The Defendant needed the Court to ignore the standard of review, weigh evidence, and put itself in the shoes of the trial judge. The Court refused. There was a basis to support all the trial court’s rulings. Nothing in the opinion suggests it was a close call.
My perception is that in general, the odds of the Fifth Circuit reversing a jury verdict are low. It takes something like what happened in this case.