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Walton Lantaff succeeds in defending an appeal of a zero verdict in the First District Court of Appeal

Apr 26, 2017 - News by

Recently, appellate attorneys at Walton Lantaff obtained a per curium affirmance of a zero verdict in record time — three days!  A team of appellate attorneys in the Fort Lauderdale office, led by Jack Joy and Sara Sandler submitted an answer brief on behalf of Geico General Insurance Company’s insured.  Jose Pagan, of the Tallahassee office, also submitted an answer brief after successfully defending Commerce and Industry Insurance Company and American International Insurance Company in the trial court.

The appeal arose from an auto accident that occurred in 2010.  The case went to trial on damages where the plaintiff argued that past medical damages were approximately $100,000 after a set off for available PIP benefits.  Plaintiff was also seeking over $800,000 in future medical damages for treatment of alleged permanent injuries. Ultimately, the jury found there was no permanent injury and awarded zero dollars for all damages after applying PIP benefits, including past and future medical expenses.  The plaintiff filed a motion for new trial, which the trial court denied.

On appeal, the plaintiff/appellant argued that the verdict was inconsistent and against the manifest weight of the evidence and that the trial court committed an error when it prevented the plaintiff from testifying that the amount of the charges on her past medical bills was reasonable.  In response, attorneys at Walton Lantaff made various arguments, including an argument that the trial court correctly precluded the plaintiff from presenting what is essentially expert testimony concerning the reasonableness of medical charges.  The appellate team also argued that the verdict was not inconsistent and was supported by the record based on testimony concerning preexisting conditions and the availability of $15,000 in PIP benefits.

The First District Court of Appeal granted a request for oral argument and heard arguments for this appeal on January 20, 2017.  Jack Joy and Jose Pagan argued before the Honorable Judges Timothy D. Osterhaus, Harvey L. Jay III, and Allen Winsor.  Just three business days after oral argument, the Court issued its opinion affirming the zero verdict.  Additionally, the Court provisionally granted both appellees’ motions for attorneys’ fees, which were based on the rejection of proposals for settlement at the trial level.

Currently, attorneys at the Firm are in the process of obtaining another successful result for our clients by seeking appellate attorneys’ fees with the trial court pursuant to the First DCA’s order granting same.

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