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Florida First DCA affirms directed verdict for plaintiff on issue of permanency in motor vehicle negligence case; finds that jury is not free to ignore undisputed expert evidence as to permanency

On July 15, 2019, in  Chappell v. Clark, No. 1S17-1806, the Florida First DCA affirmed a trial court ruling in a motor vehicle negligence case which granted the plaintiff’s motion for a directed verdict on the issue of the permanency of her injuries.  The defense presented testimony from at least one expert, but the expert’s testimony appears to have addressed only causation, i.e., whether the plaintiff’s injury was attributable to a pre-existing condition, rather than permanency.  In arguing against the direct verdict, the defense instead argued that the jury could simply ignore the testimony of the plaintiff’s experts.  The First DCA cited a Florida Supreme Court decision Wald v. Grainger, 64 So. 3d 1201, 1205 (Fla. 2011) ) (“when medical evidence on permanence is undisputed, unimpeached, or not otherwise subject to question based on the other evidence presented at trial, the jury is not free to simply ignore or arbitrarily reject that evidence and render a verdict in conflict with it”).  The First DCA noted that it was unnecessary  to decide whether a directed verdict as to permanency is appropriate when causation is disputed because the defendants did not raise that argument before the trial court.  See Adkison v. Morey, 239 So. 3d 205, 207 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018) (“It is not our function ‘to entertain for the first time on appeal, issues which the complaining party could have, and should have, but did not, present to the trial court”).

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