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Anne Cook Interior Designs v. Sanders

December 31, 1998

ANNE COOK INTERIOR DESIGNS AND DOROTHY A. COOK
v.
DANA SANDERS



Before Prather, C.j., Roberts And Mills, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Prather, Chief Justice

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/28/97

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. ROBERT L. GOZA, JR.

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: MADISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - PERSONAL INJURY

DISPOSITION: REVERSED AND RENDERED - 12/31/1998

¶1. This case arises from a car accident, which occurred August 21, 1992. The defendant admitted liability, and the only issue before the jury was the amount of damages. The jury awarded the plaintiff $5,000.00, and the trial Judge later granted an additur of $22,500.00. The only issue on appeal is the propriety of the additur.

¶2. State statute permits additurs, "if the court finds that the damages are excessive or inadequate for the reason that the jury or trier of the facts was influenced by bias, prejudice, or passion, or that the damages awarded were contrary to the overwhelming weight of credible evidence." Miss. Code Ann. § 11-1-55 (Supp. 1991).

¶3. "The scope of review that this Court employs in considering an additur appeal is limited to 'determining whether the trial court abused its discretion.'" Green v. Grant, 641 So. 2d 1203, 1208 (Miss. 1994) (quoting Rodgers v. Pascagoula Pub. Sch. Dist., 611 So. 2d 942, 945 (Miss. 1992)).

¶4. In addition, "the party seeking the additur has the burden of proving his injuries, damages and loss of income. In determining whether this burden is met, this Court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the defendant, giving that party all favorable inferences that reasonably may be drawn therefrom." Id. (quoting Rodgers, 611 So. 2d at 945).

"Further, "[a]wards fixed by jury determination are not merely advisory and will not under the general rule be set aside unless so unreasonable in amount as to strike mankind at first blush as being beyond all measure, unreasonable in amount and outrageous." Rodgers, 611 So. 2d at 945. See also, City of Jackson v. Ainsworth, 462 So. 2d 325, 328 (Miss. 1984); Toyota Motor Co., v. Sanford, 375 So. 2d 1036, 1037-38 (Miss. 1979)." Green, 641 So. 2d at 1208-09.

"[T]his Court has the responsibility to see that [the] judicial discretion in trial Judges is exercised soundly, or we will reverse.

"[T]his Court "will not hesitate to set aside the order [of additur] improvidently granted and to reinstate the verdict of the jury." See Biloxi Electric Co. v. Thorn, 264 So. 2d 404 (Miss. 1972)." Mississippi State Highway Comm'n v. Antioch Baptist Church, Inc., 392 So. 2d 512, 514-15 (Miss. 1981).

ΒΆ5. The record indicates that the plaintiff, Sanders, had no visible injuries at the time of the accident, and stated that he was not hurt. He did not see a doctor until eleven days after the accident. His total medical bills were $1,579.50. There is evidence that, shortly after the accident, Sanders personally made some ...


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