Anderson v. Sears, Roebuck & Co.
US District Court EDLA - 1974
- P, a young child, was severely burned when her home was completely consumed by fire.
- The fire was triggered by a heater that was found to be negligently manufactured by D.
- Jury found for P, awarded verdict of $2M.
- EDLA District Court affirmed.
- How should a court decide whether to reduce a damages award?
- A court should reduce a damages award if the verdict of the jury exceeds the maximum amount which the jury could reasonably find. ("maximum recovery rule")
- The court's task is to ascertain by scrutinizing all of the evidence as to each element of the damages what amount would be the maximum the jury could have reasonably awarded.
- There are five elements of damages in this case…
- Past physical and mental pain
- Future physical and mental pain
- Future medical expenses
- Loss of earning capacity
- Permanent disability and disfigurement
- After review of all of the evidence, the jury could have awarded up to $3M, so the $2M award should stand.
- Additionally, introduction of photographs into evidence was not inflammatory but necessary to the disfigurement portion.
- The presence of the P in the courtroom did not inflame or prejudice the jury in any way; she was well-behaved. Ps have a right to be in court.