Additur & Remittitur Inadequate or Excessive Jury Verdict
An additur is the power of the trial court to assess damages or increase the amount of an inadequate award made by jury verdict, as a condition of a denial of a motion for a new trial, with the consent of the defendant whether or not the plaintiff consents to such action. This is not allowed in the federal system. Damages assessed by a jury may be set aside when the amount is shocking to the judicial conscience--so grossly inadequate that it constitutes a miscarriage of justice--or when it appears that the jury was influenced by prejudice, corruption, passion, or mistake.
An additur is not justified solely because the amount of damages is low
An additur is not justified solely because the amount of damages is low. For example, damages of $10,000 certainly will not compensate the family of a forty-four-year-old man who had been steadily employed as a plumber until he was permanently disabled in an auto accident. In such a case, however, the jury could have found that the plaintiff's negligence contributed to the cause of the accident and reduced the damages proportionately, as is permitted in most states. An award of additur is not permitted in every state, nor is it allowed in the federal courts. Under the rules that govern procedure in the federal courts, a trial judge has the power to set aside a verdict for a plaintiff on the ground that the damages awarded are clearly inadequate, but then the judge's only recourse is to grant a new trial.
A remittitur is the procedural process by which an excessive verdict of the jury is reduced
A remittitur is the procedural process by which an excessive verdict of the jury is reduced. If money damages awarded by a jury are grossly excessive as a matter of law, the judge may order the plaintiff to remit a portion of the award. The remedy of remittitur is designed to cure an award of damages that is grossly excessive without the necessity of a new trial or an appeal. In some cases, an award by a jury is so completely out of line with the damages proven in the case that it is unconscionable.
Ordinarily, however, an award of Punitive Damages will not be upset as excessive in the absence of gross error or prejudice on the part of the jury. Remittitur frequently occurs when a defendant requests a new trial because he or she regards the verdict for the plaintiff as excessive.
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