Direct Appeal from the Circuit Court for Dickson County No. CV2326, Robert E. Burch, Judge.
This tort action arises from an automobile accident. Defendants admitted liability, but appeal the jury's award of damages in the amount of $76,792 to Plaintiff. We affirm.
Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed; and Remanded.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: David R. Farmer, Judge
DAVID R. FARMER, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which ALAN E. HIGHERS, P.J., W.S., and J. STEVEN STAFFORD, J., joined.
This action arises from a motor vehicle accident on December 26, 2005, between a vehicle operated by Plaintiff Emily Steward (Ms. Steward) and one operated by William F. Smith, III (Mr. Smith) a minor. On December 27, 2006, Ms. Steward filed a complaint in the Circuit Court for Dickson County against Mr. Smith and his mother, Julie Ann Smith (Ms. Smith; collectively, "the Smiths"), who was presumed to be the owner of the Smith vehicle. In her complaint, Ms. Steward alleged she was traveling southbound in the southbound lane of Highway 46 in Dickson County when she was struck by a vehicle operated by Mr. Smith as he attempted to make a left-hand turn from the northbound lane. She alleged the collision was directly and proximately caused by negligence on the part of Mr. Smith. Ms. Steward prayed for compensatory damages arising from past and future pain and suffering; past and future medical expenses; property damages; loss of enjoyment of life; permanent impairment; emotional suffering and grief; lost wages; and general relief.
The Smiths answered, denying allegations of negligence. They further asserted the affirmative defenses of failure to state a claim on which relief may be granted and comparative fault. The Smiths also served notice pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 24-5-113 of their intent to rebut the presumption of the reasonableness and necessity of Ms. Steward's medical bills and demanded a jury to try the cause. In August 2008, the parties filed an agreed stipulation wherein the Smiths admitted 100 percent liability with no allegations of comparative fault, and the matter proceeded to trial on the issue of damages.
The jury heard the matter in September 2008 and awarded Ms. Steward damages in the amount of $76,792. The trial court entered its order on the jury verdict in October 2008. In November 2008, the Smiths filed a motion for new trial or remittitur, asserting counsel for Ms. Steward improperly had made reference to insurance coverage during the trial of the matter, and that the preponderance of the evidence weighed against the damages awarded by the jury. Following a hearing in December 2008, the trial court denied the Smiths' motion. The Smiths filed a timely notice of appeal to this Court.
The Smiths raise the following issues for our review, as we slightly reword them:
(1) Whether the trial court erred by denying Defendants' motion for mistrial and subsequent motion for new trial.
(2) Whether the jury rendered a verdict that was so excessive as to evidence passion, prejudice, or caprice, requiring a remittitur.
On appeal from a jury trial, we will not set aside the jury's findings of fact unless there is no material evidence to support the verdict. Childress v. Union Realty Co., 97 S.W.3d 573, 576 (Tenn .Ct. App. 2002); Tenn. R. App. P. 13(d). Upon review, this Court will not re-weigh the evidence, but will take the strongest view possible of the evidence in favor of the prevailing party, and discard evidence to the contrary. Id. We will allow all reasonable inferences to uphold the jury's verdict, setting it aside only if there is no material evidence to support it. Id. Our review of the trial court's conclusions of law in a jury trial, ...