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WAYNE MONROE ET AL. v. DOROTHY E. LEONARD ET AL. (06/05/69)
CIVIL COURT OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, TRIAL TERM, NEW YORK COUNTY
1969.NY.41856 <http://www.versuslaw.com>; 308 N.Y.S.2d 933; 62 Misc. 2d 463
June 5, 1969
WAYNE MONROE ET AL., INFANTS, BY GROVER C. MONROE THEIR FATHER AND NATURAL GUARDIAN, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,v.DOROTHY E. LEONARD ET AL., DEFENDANTS
Mark Barret Wiesen for plaintiffs.
Guminick & Lieber (M. Robert Schwartz of counsel), for defendants.
Edward Goodell, J.
The question presented for consideration here is whether a verdict should be set aside and a new trial granted.
The jury awarded a verdict to Grover Monroe, Jr., for $500, and a verdict to Wayne Monroe for $7,000, for injuries they sustained in an accident that occurred on October 14, 1965 while they were passengers in an automobile driven by their father (Grover C. Monroe). At the time of the accident Grover was 6 and Wayne was 16 years old. Counsel for the defendants moved to set aside the verdict in favor of Wayne Monroe on the ground that it was excessive and against the weight of credible evidence.
The principal injury claimed to have been suffered by Wayne was a fracture of the nose near the bridge with certain sequelae as a result of that injury, namely bleeding, change in the shape of the nose, and narrowing of one of the nasal openings resulting in interference with the normal passage of mucous. The fracture healed, but it was the claim of the plaintiff that the sequelae are permanent in nature. The other claimed injuries were not consequential and were temporary in nature. The issue relating to the injury to Wayne's nose was sharply contested. It is reasonable to conclude, therefore, that the jury's verdict was based on its determination that Wayne's nose was fractured and that all or some of the sequelae are permanent in nature.
I do not find that this determination is against the weight of evidence. The question here is whether the verdict was excessive.
Despite my reluctance to disturb the verdict of a jury, particularly in the instance of an infant plaintiff, it is my view that the amount of the verdict is disproportionate to the severity of the injury as disclosed by the record in this case.
While verdicts in other cases cannot be used as precise guides to the appropriate amount of an award in this case because of the inevitable differences in the facts and in the circumstances bearing upon each case, prior verdicts are helpful to the extent that they suggest permissible areas of evaluation for particular types of injury. (Mullady v. Brooklyn Hgts. R. R. Co., 65 App. Div. 549, 551 and Melish v. New York Cons. R. R. Co., 108 Misc. 291, 293.)
Counsel for the plaintiff and the defendant have submitted to me instances of verdicts in cases decided in other jurisdictions as well as New York involving nasal injuries. I have limited my consideration to the New York cases because, it seems to me, the verdict of other jurisdictions may be based on standards of value that are different from those of New York and therefore may add another element of disparity to the variations of fact and circumstance that normally distinguish cases, regardless of the jurisdiction in which they arise.
The following are the New York cases I have examined, commencing with the most recent of them, involving instances in which nasal injury was either the principal injury or a principal injury:
1. Czirer v. New York State Thruway Auth. (22 Misc. 2d 678) Court of Claims, non-jury, decided 1960, $4,500 plus $410.15 for hospital and medical expenses.
2. Hinkel v. R. H. Macy, Inc. (201 N. Y. S. 2d 211) Supreme Court, N. Y. County, non-jury, decided 1960, $3,500 to plaintiff plus $500 to plaintiff's husband.
3. Gurecki v. State of New York (18 Misc. 2d 527) Court of Claims, non-jury, decided 1959, $4,000.
4. Beavers v. Calloway (61 N. Y. S. 2d 804, affd. 271 App. Div. 820) non-jury, decided 1946, $3,000. . Ranelli v. Society of N. Y. Hosp. (49 N. Y. S. 2d 898 [Sup. Ct., Queens County, 1944]) non-jury verdict for $2,500, reduced by Appellate Division (269 App. Div. 906 ) to $1,500.
As I have remarked, prior decisions provide suggestions as to the permissible range of evaluation of damage rather than exact guidance, because of the differences of fact and circumstance affecting each case. One of these circumstances, affecting the consideration of prior verdicts, is the date of decision, because the cost of living and the ...