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Florida Fifth DCA rules that trial court erred in directing verdict for plaintiff on issue of permanency in motor vehicle negligence case involving conflicting evidence on issue

On December 22, 2017, in 21st Century Centennial Insurance v. Thynge, No. 5D16-1575, the Florida Fifth DCA reversed a trial court’s directed verdict for the plaintiff on the issue of the permanency of her injury in a motor vehicle negligence case. The jury had found that there was no permanency. However, the trial court granted a directed verdict for the plaintiff on the issue after the jury verdict. On appeal, the Fifth DCA noted that a trial court’s ruling on a motion for judgment in accordance with a prior motion for directed verdict is reviewed de novo, see Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Barbanell, 100 So. 3d 152, 157 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012), and a motion for directed verdict should be granted only where there is no reasonable evidence upon which a jury could legally predicate a verdict in favor of the non-moving party. See Wald v. Grainger, 64 So. 3d 1201, 1204 (Fla. 2011); Volusia Cty. v. Joynt, 179 So. 3d 448, 450 (Fla. 5th DCA 2015). Likewise, a directed verdict is not appropriate in cases where there is conflicting evidence as to the causation or the likelihood of causation. See Cohen v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., 203 So. 3d 942, 949 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016). Wald allows for a directed verdict on permanency based on expert testimony except when (1) it is rebutted by another expert, (2) the testimony is impeached, or (3) other conflicting evidence is presented. The Fifth DCA concluded that because the plaintiff had given an incomplete medical history to the plaintiff’s medical expert and provided conflicting testimony regarding the accident and her injuries, a direct verdict was not allowed.

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