§23.10 Itemization on Verdict Form

The Case: Overstreet v. Shoney's Inc., 4 S.W.3d 694 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1999).

The Basic Facts: Plaintiff was a patron at Defendant restaurant when she was blinded by a glass shard after a waitress dropped a plate near her. Plaintiff subsequently brought a negligence action against Defendant restaurant and the waitress who dropped the plate.

The Bottom Line:

  • "Shoney's also insists that the itemization of damages on the verdict form permitted the jury to award duplicative damages. Specifically, it asserts that the damages for pain and suffering, disfigurement, and loss of capacity to enjoy life overlap. Ms. Overstreet responds that Shoney's should not be permitted to raise this issue on appeal because it did not take issue with the trial court's jury instructions on damages. We will first consider whether [Tenn. R. App. P. 36(a)] prevents Shoney's from raising this issue on appeal. It would have been better practice had Shoney's taken issue with the trial court's damage instructions or requested additional instructions concerning the components of each element of damage and a complete instruction patterned after T.P.I. 3 - Civil 14.01. However, we have determined that not raising these matters with the trial court does not prevent Shoney's from challenging the verdict form. The verdict form, more so than the instructions themselves, emphasizes the jury's prerogative to assign a separate monetary loss for each type of damages requested by Ms. Overstreet. Thus, notwithstanding the trial court's use of the term 'if any' in its instructions and the verdict form, the verdict form is more conducive to duplicate, overlapping damage awards if the different measures of damages listed on the form actually overlap. We have determined, however, that the different measures of damages sought by Ms. Overstreet represent separate and distinct losses." 4 S.W.3d at 714-715 (footnote omitted).

  • "It will be helpful at the outset to define each of the non-economic damages that the jury awarded - pain and suffering, permanent impairment and/or disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment of life - both past and future. Although conceptually they all can be encompassed within the general rubric of pain and suffering, each of these types of damages are separate and distinct losses to the victim. See Thompson v. National R.R. Passenger Corp., 621 F.2d 814, 824 (6th Cir. 1980). The drafters of the [Tennessee Pattern Jury Instructions] have reached a similar Conclusion. See T.P.I. 3 - Civil 14.10 through 14.17." Id. at 715.

After an accident, many injury victims and their families want more information on the accident and their legal rights. Consequently, many of them have found their way to these pages. While we are happy you are here, please understand Day on Torts: Leading Cases in Tennessee Tort Law was written to be a quick, invaluable reference for Tennessee tort lawyers. While the book provides the leading case for more than 300 tort law subjects and thousands of related case citations, it is not a substitute for personalized legal advice from a qualified lawyer.

Rather than researching these legal issues alone, we urge you to contact one of our award-winning lawyers who can sit down with you, review your case, answer your questions and clearly explain your rights and your options in a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced attorneys handle all personal injury and wrongful death cases on a contingency basis, so we only get paid if we win. If for any reason you are unable to come to our office, we will gladly come to you.

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The foregoing is an excerpt from Day on Torts: Leading Cases in Tennessee Tort Law, published by John A. Day, Civil Trial Specialist, Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, recipient of Best Lawyers in America recognition, Martindale-Hubbell AV® Preeminent™ rated attorney, and Top 100 Tennessee Mid-South Super Lawyers designee. Read John’s full bio here.

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