Plaintiffs in personal injury cases may be entitled to recover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are intended to compensate for the economic loss suffered by the plaintiff, including medical expenses and lost wages. Non-economic damages, however, are not based on financial loss, but on losses that are more difficult to assess with a dollar value, such as pain and suffering and loss of companionship.
A recent federal case in the Southern District of Florida considered whether a multi-million dollar award was appropriate under the facts of the case. In Wisekal v. Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings, a husband filed a medical malpractice lawsuit as the personal representative of his wife’s estate after she died from cancer. A jury determined that the decedent bore 25% comparative fault, but awarded more than $15 million after the comparative fault reduction. The defendant moved for a new trial and for judgment as a matter of law, and the court denied both. The defendant also moved for remittitur of both the economic and non-economic damages, and, alternatively, for a new trial on damages.
The court determined that the economic damages award was reasonably supported by the evidence and denied the defendant’s challenge to that part of the award.