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Milva Lissabet Ortego v. Blanchard Belony, Case No. 3D14-1655 (3rd DCA)

In Ortego, the Third District reinstated a jury verdict awarding minimal past or future pain and suffering to a plaintiff who suffered permanent neck injuries following an automobile accident. The plaintiff had suffered a broken neck in a traffic accident, and spent three months in a halo. Following the three months, the plaintiff had healed surprisingly well, and by trial, was left with lingering neck pain. The jury awarded zero for pain and suffering, and the trial court asked the jury to reconsider the award, finding it inconsistent with the evidence. The jury then returned a $5,000 award for pain and suffering. The plaintiff moved for additur, and the trial court, finding the jury's award as having shocked the conscience of the court, increased the past and future pain and suffering award to $250,000.

The Third District noted that "[d]amages for pain and suffering are difficult to calculate, have no set standard of measurement, and for this reason are uniquely reserved to a jury for their decision." Because pain and suffering is an intangible element of damages, a pain and suffering award is "clothed with a presumption of regularity and is not to be disturbed if supported by the evidence." The test for determining the adequacy of a jury verdict is whether a jury of reasonable persons could have returned that verdict. Here, the Third District found that the record did not establish that the jury was improperly influenced by prejudice, passion or corruption. The Third District stated that the plaintiff was "stoic," and healed quickly, resulting in no need for future care. Accordingly, it found that the jury did not act unreasonably in concluding that $5,000 was a reasonable award for past and future pain and suffering.

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