Mader, S., Aplt. v. Duquesne Light

[J-27-2020] [MO: Todd, J.] IN THE SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA WESTERN DISTRICT STEVEN MADER, : No. 33 WAP 2019 : Appellant : Appeal from the Order of the : Superior Court entered November : 30, 2018 at No. 609 WDA 2018, v. : affirming in part and reversing in part : the Order of the Court of Common : Pleas of Allegheny County entered DUQUESNE LIGHT COMPANY, : April 17, 2018 at No. GD 13-6249 : and remanding. Appellee : : SUBMITTED: April 21, 2020 DISSENTING OPINION JUSTICE MUNDY DECIDED: NOVEMBER 18, 2020 The majority affirms the Superior Court’s remand for a new trial on noneconomic damages and past and future lost earning capacity, but not on past and future medical damages. Because I do not agree the trial court abused its discretion in awarding a new trial on all damages, I dissent. As noted by the majority, in addressing the appropriate standard and scope of review, “it is a fundamental precept that a decision to order a new trial lies within the discretion of the trial court[,]” and “the proper standard of appellate review is determining whether the trial court abused its discretion.” Majority Op. at 7 (citing Morrison v. Commonwealth, Department of Public Welfare, 646 A.2d 565, 570 (Pa. 1994); Coker v. S.M. Flickinger Co., Inc., 625 A.2d 1181, 1184 (Pa. 1993)). Furthermore, “[a]n abuse of discretion exists when the trial court has rendered a judgment that is manifestly unreasonable, arbitrary, or capricious, has failed to apply the law, or was moved by partiality, prejudice, bias, or ill will.” Id. at 8 (citing Coker, 625 A.2d at 1184-1185). “‘Where the record adequately supports the trial court’s reasons and factual basis, the court did not abuse its discretion.’” Id. (quoting Morrison, 646 A.2d at 571). The majority additionally explains that “the grant of a new trial may be required to achieve justice in those instances where the original trial . . . produces something other than a just and fair result.” Id. at 17 (citing Dornan v. McCarthy, 195 A.2d 520, 522 (Pa. 1963)). A jury’s verdict can be set aside “‘where it clearly appears from the uncontradicted evidence that the amount of the verdict bears no reasonable relation to the loss suffered by the plaintiff[,]’” and a new trial should be awarded where the verdict is “‘so contrary to the evidence as to ‘shock one’s sense of justice[.]’” Id. (citing Kiser v. Schulte, 648 A.2d 1, 4 (Pa. 1994)). Where “‘the injustice of the verdict ‘stand[s] forth like a beacon,’ a court should not hesitate to find it inadequate and order a new trial.’” Id. (citing Kiser, 648 A.2d at 4). Instantly, the jury heard the uncontradicted evidence that Mader’s feet were so severely burned by electricity that his injuries required several invasive surgeries and the eventual amputation of half of each extremity. Nevertheless, the jury did not award Mader any damages for the pain and suffering that resulted from his electrocution, nor did they award any pain …

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