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Melendez v. Deleo

Appellate Court of Connecticut

August 25, 2015

JAMIE MELENDEZ
v.
JOHN DELEO

Argued April 14, 2015

Page 81

Action to recover damages for personal injuries allegedly sustained as a result of the defendant's negligence, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Waterbury and tried to a jury before Zemetis, J.; verdict for the plaintiff; thereafter, the court denied the plaintiff's motion for additur or to set aside the verdict; subsequently, the court rendered judgment in accordance with the verdict, and the plaintiff appealed to this court.

SYLLABUS

The plaintiff sought to recover damages for negligence for personal injuries she allegedly sustained in an automobile accident involving the defendant. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, awarding her economic damages but no noneconomic damages. Thereafter, the trial court denied the plaintiff's motion for additur or to set aside the verdict and rendered judgment in accordance with the verdict, and the plaintiff appealed to this court. On appeal, the plaintiff claimed that the trial court improperly denied her motion for additur or to set aside the verdict because the jury, in declining to award noneconomic damages, made a mistake as a matter of law. Held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the plaintiff's motion for additur or to set aside the verdict, which fell within the necessarily uncertain limits of fair and reasonable compensation: the plaintiff was not entitled to an award of noneconomic damages simply because the jury awarded her economic damages, but, rather, she had the burden of proving noneconomic damages with reasonable certainty, and the plaintiff failed to meet that burden of proof, a review of the record having supported the trial court's conclusion that the case involved a claim for injuries that were inconsistently documented and medical treatment based largely on the subjective and inconsistent complaints of the plaintiff, and the jury, which had before it the plaintiff's inconsistent complaints in various medical reports and evidence concerning her lack of any follow-up medical treatment, was not required to believe the plaintiff's subjective complaints and testimony, but instead, could have credited the medical reports compiled near or at the time of the accident, which lacked any objective findings of traumatic injuries associated with pain and suffering; furthermore, the jury's decision not to award the plaintiff any future medical expenses despite a 6 percent impairment rating assigned by her chiropractor, C, supported an inference that the jury did not consider the chiropractor's findings and recommendations credible.

Amita Patel Rossetti, with whom was Jeffrey J. Tinley, for the appellant (plaintiff).

Francis E. Genovese, for the appellee (defendant).

DiPentima, C. J., and Lavine and Alvord, Js.

OPINION

Page 82

[159 Conn.App. 415] DiPENTIMA, C. J.

The plaintiff, Jamie Melendez, appeals from the judgment of the trial court, rendered after a jury verdict against the defendant, John Deleo, denying her motion for additur and/or to set aside the verdict. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court [159 Conn.App. 416] abused its discretion by denying her motion. We affirm the judgment of the court.

The court set forth the following factual and procedural history of the case in its memorandum of decision on the motion for additur. " The case arises out of a two car collision that occurred on April 19, 2012 . . . in Waterbury . . . . The parties were operating their respective cars. Based on the photographic, documentary and testimonial evidence, a moderate collision between the front end of the defendant's car and the driver's side of the plaintiff's car occurred.

" The responsibility for the collision was sharply contested. The jury found the defendant 60 [percent] responsible for the collision, but also found the plaintiff 40 [percent] comparatively negligent. . . .

" The jury awarded 100 [percent] of past claimed medical bills, past claimed wages and automobile ...


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