Credibility in Criminal and Civil Law
Plaintiff in the Federal Court case of Perri v. Resorts International Hotel, Inc., Dist. Ct., filed a motion for a new trial in this matter after a jury returned a small verdict only reflecting the past medical bills that were incurred as a result of an alleged claim for damages for injuries allegedly sustained when he fell from a stool at a casino owned and operated by Defendant Resorts Hotel, Incorporated. Plaintiff claimed damages for past medical bills, past and future pain, suffering, disability, impairment, and loss of enjoyment of life. Prior to trial, Defendant stipulated to liability.
Even when the parties agreed that Resorts was legally responsible for the injury, the only remaining issues were causation and damages. The jury found that the injuries claimed by Plaintiff were caused by Defendant’s negligence and awarded Plaintiff $13,817.473 for his past medical bills, but zero dollars for past and future pain, suffering, disability, impairment, and loss of enjoyment of life. The key to this case was the defendant efforts to dispute the extent to which Plaintiff experienced pain and suffering, and contested the causation for such pain and suffering.
The jury found, in light of the medical testimony regarding Plaintiff’s pre-existing back condition, the Court ruled that a jury could reasonably have concluded that any pain and suffering resulted from prior injuries. Also, the two surveillance videos submitted by Defendant could reasonably have indicated to the jury that Plaintiff suffered no limitation on mobility. The record further demonstrated that Plaintiff’s injuries required minimal medical treatment. Therefore, although the jury found that Defendant caused Plaintiff’s injuries, and held Defendant liable for the “stipulated” medical expenses, the jury verdict with respect to pain and suffering can be reconciled by concluding that the jury discredited the testimony of Plaintiff and Plaintiff’s witnesses. The Court denies Plaintiff’s motion for a new trial.
As I have written before, in any criminal and civil case, credibility is everything. The juries do not want to give you anything you are not entitled to. The theory that New Jersey’s jury trials are lotteries for the plaintiffs is not a reality. If you are not honest and credible the jury will not believe you and your story!