may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Filed January 13, 1998
Affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded
Toussaint, Chief Judge
Anoka County District Court
File No. C8965084
Craig H. Anderson, Michael D. Barrett, Cousineau, McGuire & Anderson, 600 Traveler's Express Tower, 1550 Utica Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55416 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Randall, Judge and Forsberg, Judge.**
Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI § 10.
Appellant Margaret Raze commenced an action for damages against respondent Yvonne Mueller for injuries she sustained when Mueller rear-ended her automobile. At trial, Mueller admitted liability, leaving only the issue of damages for the jury. The jury awarded Raze damages for past/future medical care, but awarded no damages for past/future pain and suffering. Raze's motion for a new trial to reconsider the failure to award pain and suffering damages was denied by the district court. Because we believe the jury's award of damages for medical care is inconsistent with their failure to award damages for pain and suffering, we affirm as to liability, but reverse and remand as to damages.
the verdict must stand unless it is manifestly and palpably contrary to the evidence viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict.
ZumBerge v. Northern States Power Co., 481 N.W.2d 103, 110 (Minn. App. 1992) review denied (Minn. Apr. 29, 1992). However, a new trial may be granted due to "insufficient damages" or where the verdict "is not justified by the evidence, or is contrary to law." Minn. R. Civ. P. 59.01 (e) and (g).
Raze challenges the district court's refusal to award her a new trial on the issue of damages for past/future pain and suffering. She argues that the jury's failure to award damages for past/future pain and suffering is contrary to the evidence and reflects passion or bias. Because the jury awarded damages for past/future medical care, Raze contends it is only logical that she suffered pain as a direct result of her injuries. In denying Raze's motion for new trial, however, the district court concluded the jury finding was not contrary to the evidence. The district court noted conflicting medical testimony in the record where one expert determined that Raze's injuries were not caused by the accident but instead, were attributable to pre-existing conditions. The district court then concluded the damages awards were not inconsistent and that the jury verdict was supported by the record.
Generally, a new trial on damages will be granted only where the verdict is so inadequate or excessive that it "could only have been rendered on account of passion or prejudice." Flanagan v. Lindberg, 404 N.W.2d 799, 800 (Minn. 1987). An appellate court must reconcile special verdict answers in a "reasonable manner consistent with the evidence and its fair inferences." Reese v. Henke, 277 Minn. 151, 155, 152, N.W.2d 63, 66 (1967). If the answers can be reconciled on any theory, the verdict should stand. Id. When reviewing a jury's findings, "the evidence must be reviewed in the light most favorable to the verdict." Reedon of Faribault, Inc. v. Fidelity & Guar. Ins. Underwriters, 418 N.W.2d 488, 491 (Minn. 1988). However, if the verdict is "manifestly and palpably against the weight of the evidence," this court may interfere with the damages award to prevent an injustice. Otterness v. Horsley, 263 N.W.2d 403, 405 (Minn. 1978); Stuttgen v. Gipe, 404 N.W.2d 10, 12 (Minn. App. 1987).
On this record, we conclude it is unjust for the jury to not have awarded Raze even nominal damages for pain and suffering, while at the same time awarding her damages for loss of income and medical expenses obviously caused by the pain from her injury. See Levienn v. Metropolitan Transit Comm'n, 297 N.W.2d 272, 273 (Minn. 1980). Raze has made a showing that she has and will continue to suffer pain or disability as a result of the injuries she sustained in the accident. The evidence shows that she had no prior shoulder injury before the accident and she will require further medical care as a result of the injury. Furthermore, Raze testified that she suffered pain and diminishment of activity following the accident and continues to do so despite her on-going medical treatment.
Raze's own statements, coupled with supporting medical testimony, do not belie her claim for past/future pain and suffering. Thus, we hold that it is unjust and shocking for the jury to have concluded that although Raze suffered an injury warranting an award of past/future medical expenses, that injury did not result in any past/future pain and suffering. Because only special damages were awarded although general damages such as pain and suffering were proven, we affirm the verdict on the issue of liability, but reverse and remand for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion as to damages. See Clark v. Johnson Bros. Constr., 370 N.W.2d 896, 900 (Minn. App. 1985), review denied (Minn. Sept. 19, 1985); Carnahan v. Walsh, 416 N.W.2d 187, 188 (Minn. App. 1987) reviewed denied (Minn. Feb. 12, 1988).
Affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded.