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Donald Emmons v. Thomas Wayne Akers, II, et al., Case No. 1D14-4625 (1st DCA)

In Emmons, the trial court found that the amount awarded by the jury in the personal injury action was inadequate, and therefore, granted the plaintiff’s motion for additur. The defendant refused to agree to the additur, and thus, the trial court ordered a new trial on the issue of disputed damages only, as required by statute. This appeal followed.

Noting that the appellate court must give deference to the trial court’s order granting additur or new trial, the First District affirmed the order under review. The First District noted that Fla. Stat. 768.043 requires a trial court, upon motion, to grant an additur if the amount awarded was inadequate in light of the facts and circumstances which were presented to the trier of fact. The statute sets forth various criteria the trial court must consider before awarding additur. If the party adversely affected by an additur does not agree to the additur, the court must order a new trial on the issue of damages only. Here, the trial court’s order set forth the basis for granting an additur by providing findings as set forth in the statutory criteria. The additur was subsequently refused, and so the trial court ordered a new trial on damages. The First District found that the trial court’s conclusions were not unreasonable, and therefore, its order granting new trial should be affirmed. The First District indicated that the defendant reasonably argued the amounts awarded by the jury were supported by the evidence, but the court also noted that such an argument ignored the applicable standard in this case. The only issue before the appellate court in this case was the propriety of an order granting new trial, and not the propriety of the additur itself. “We know of no authority which would allow an appellate court to even address the propriety of an additur . . . when the additur has been refused.” Accordingly, the First District stated that even if it agreed with the defendant that the evidence supported the jury’s award, that fact alone does not provide a basis for reversal.

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