Last week, the Court of Appeals of Tennessee reviewed a jury verdict in a premises liability case, ultimately affirming the award of $250,000 to the injured plaintiff. In Glasgow v. K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc. (Tenn. Ct. App. Aug. 31, 2016), the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the operator of a grocery store after he was injured while using the restroom. At trial, the court denied the defendant’s request for a directed verdict and submitted the case to the jury, which awarded $350,000 in compensatory damages. The trial court approved the verdict but reduced the award to the amount of damages actually pled by the plaintiff, i.e., $250,000. The defendant appealed, arguing that the damages awarded by the jury were not supported by material evidence.
In Glasgow, the plaintiff entered the defendant’s grocery store and proceeded to the restroom. After using the facility, the plaintiff attempted to stand but lost his balance, causing him to grab a handrail. The handrail pulled away from the wall, causing the plaintiff to fall and hit his head. The plaintiff immediately sought medical treatment from a hospital. In the days, months, and years following the accident, the plaintiff experienced uncontrollable migraines, accompanied by severe nausea or vomiting.
On appeal, the defendant did not contest the issue of fault but instead the amount of compensatory damages awarded to the plaintiff for his injury. The appeals court, therefore, reviewed the evidence concerning the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries. At trial, the plaintiff testified that his migraines and light sensitivity caused him to change his 14-year career from television and video production to radio. The plaintiff’s doctors also provided testimony that the post-concussive migraine headaches he experienced for years following the accident may continue through his lifetime, although there was no objective test to determine one’s tendency to have future migraines.
In personal injury cases, the amount of damages to be awarded is primarily for the jury to determine. Generally, if there is any material evidence to support the jury’s award, the appellate court will not disturb a verdict approved by the trial judge. In determining whether material evidence supports the jury’s verdict, the appellate court: (1) takes the strongest legitimate view of all the evidence in favor of the verdict; (2) assumes the truth of all evidence that supports the verdict; (3) allows all reasonable inferences to sustain the verdict; and (4) discards all countervailing evidence.
Finding sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the plaintiff continued to suffer from debilitating migraines and abandoned his career in the field of television and video production as a result of the accident, the appeals court sustained the $250,000 award to the plaintiff.
Negligence on the part of a business or individual may lead to a personal injury claim if their carelessness causes harm to another person. At Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, our Nashville premises liability attorneys are experienced litigators, providing trusted advice to those involved in slip and falls, car and motorcycle collisions, and other accidents. We can inform you of your legal options after an injury, as well as represent you in courtroom proceedings. To learn more, contact our offices by phone at (615) 800-7096 or online and schedule your consultation.