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Virginia Judge Rules Award Comparisons Won’t Change Verdicts

January 31, 2013 by The Parrish Law Firm

The award of $1.85 million to a Henry County woman who suffered from a fall in a nursing home has been upheld after a Roanoke City circuit judge dismissed the defendant’s claim that the award was too large in comparison to other awards for injuries of a similar nature, reports Virginia Lawyers Weekly.

The judge cited a recent determination by the Supreme Court of Virginia in a case on January 10th, 2013 involving the death of a man’s wife in a car accident, that the “proportionality” analysis, wherein the defense argued the damages awarded to the husband were much higher than those awarded to the wife’s parents and should therefore be knocked down, was insufficient to warrant lowering the award.

Defense lawyers in the nursing home case involving the Henry County woman argued that the verdict was too much when compared to three other personal injury verdicts previously awarded in Virginia, but Roanoke Judge Charles N. Dorsey claimed that the Supreme Court “no longer adheres to the average verdict rule.”

Dorsey went on to say that, “the ‘math of the macabre’ suggested by Defendants attempts to quantify Plaintiff’s loss by reference to supposedly more gruesome cases. The Court’s role in assessing jury verdicts does not submit to such distasteful precision.”

The woman, Virginia Crouse, was receiving physiotherapy at the nursing home to improve her mobility after suffering a stroke, and got out of bed to use the restroom when she fell and fractured her shoulder and hip. The lawsuit revolved around the failed use of a bed alarm that was supposed to alert nurses when a patient is in danger of falling.

The case brings to light the fact that the so-called “proportionality” analysis is on its way out: defense beware.

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