may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. sec. 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
St. Paul Public Housing Authority,
Filed March 11, 1997
Ramsey County District Court
File No. C4-96-61
Dan T. Reyerson, James T. Martin, Gislason, Martin & Varpness, 7600 Parklawn Avenue South, Suite 444, Minneapolis, MN 55435 (for appellant).
Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Willis, Judge.
Appellant St. Paul Public Housing Authority (PHA) challenges the district court denial of the PHA's motion for new trial on the issue of damages. Claiming that the jury awarded respondent Evelyn Rasmussen excessive damages, the PHA argues that the district court should have ordered a new trial. We affirm.
The jury award was $30,000 for past pain, disability, and emotional distress, $20,000 for future pain, disability and emotional distress, and $3,100 for future medical expenses.
Appellant does not contest its 100 percent negligence as assigned by the jury, but puts in issue only the district court's refusal to grant a new trial on the issue of damages.
Appellant claims that based on Rasmussen's short "actuarial" life expectancy of 3.25 years, the trial testimony can sustain an award for future medical expenses of only $975 rather than $3100. Appellant concedes that its argument is based on multiplying projected medical expenses precisely times 3.25. We are not persuaded. We note settled law that mortality tables are based on the average life expectancies of extremely large groups of people and that although they are evidentiary, they are never determinative or decisive of the injured person's life expectancy.
[M]ortality tables, based on the average life expectancy of a large group of persons, have considerable evidentiary value, but they are [not] decisive of the injured person's life expectancy * * * . These tables are but one of several evidentiary factors to be weighed in ascertaining life expectancy * * * .
Hallada v. Great N. Ry, 244 Minn. 81, 95, 69 N.W.2d 673, 685 (1955), overruled on other grounds, 262 N.W.2d 377 (Minn. 1997); see also Tollefson v. Ehlers, 252 Minn. 370, 377, 90 N.W.2d 205, 210 (1958) (stating that a jury is not required to accept mortality figure as life expectancy); Thoirs v. Pounsford, 210 Minn. 462, 467, 299 N.W. 16, 18 (1941) ("Some people far outlive the expectancy shown in such tables * * * .").
Appellant argues that what it calls "excess" future medical expense damages of $2,125 is enough to require, not only a remittitur, but a total reversal and remand for a new trial based on all elements of damage. Appellant argues that since the jury must have been "so inflamed by passion and prejudice" to award $3100 in future medical expenses when appellant says only $975 can be justified, that is compelling evidence that the entire damage award was tainted. We are not persuaded.
Rasmussen, a 90-year-old woman at the time of the accident, was already suffering from age-related health problems, including poor vision, degenerative joint disease, and a previous fractured vertebrae. However, appellant concedes that defendants "take plaintiffs as they find them," and appellant agrees that the jury was instructed properly as to how to award damage for past and future pain resulting just from the accident at issue. There was trial testimony that before the accident Rasmussen led an active and independent life, for a 90-year-old woman, and that after the accident her independence has been diminished and there is a loss of mobility attributable to the accident. On this record, appellant has failed to show that the district court abused its discretion when it refused to grant a new trial on the grounds of excessive damages.