Kennedy v. Wheeler

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 12-11-2014
  • Case #: S061836
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Walters, J. for the Court, En Banc.

The law does not require a jury to award any specific amount of economic or noneconomic damages as a prerequisite to entry of a valid judgment for a plaintiff when the same nine out of twelve jurors do not agree on the specific amounts of economic and noneconomic damages awarded.

Defendant admitted liability in a negligence action, and the jury decided issues of causation and damages. The jury completed a special verdict form and unanimously agreed on causation, and nine of twelve jurors agreed to award plaintiff specific economic and noneconomic damages. However the jurors did not agree on the amounts of damages awarded. The trial court accepted the verdict of judgement for plaintiff. Defendant objected, and argued that ORCP 59 G(2) and Article Vii, section 5(7) of the Oregon Constitution were violated because three-fourths of a jury did not render a verdict. Plaintiff argued in their reply that defendant failed to timely object, and other procedural and substantive objections. The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court decision, and focused on the “law of the case” doctrine in their reasoning. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the "law of the case" doctrine is best reserved when a party is seeking to litigate an appeal. The Court reasoned that because nine of twelve jurors agreed on economic and noneconomic damages, that it should be presumed that they followed the jury instructions on the special verdict form. The decision of the Court of Appeals is reversed. The judgment of the circuit court is affirmed.

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