EDITH NIEVES AND FREDDY MATOS, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS HUSBAND AND WIFE, Appellants,
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellee.
FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND
DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED
from the Circuit Court for Orange County, John Marshall Kest,
Barry Morgan, of Morgan Law Office, P.A., Orlando, for
J. Petika McLemore and Charles W. Hall, of Banker Lopez
Gassler P.A., St. Petersburg, for Appellee.
Nieves and Freddy Matos, individually and as husband and wife
(collectively "Appellants"), appeal the order
setting new trial for all damages following State Farm Mutual
Automobile Insurance Company's ("State Farm")
rejection of the remittitur for future medical expenses.
Appellants argue the lower court erred by granting new trial
for all damages because it had only granted remittitur for
future medical expenses. We agree. Accordingly, we quash the
order for new trial on all damages and remand for a new trial
solely on future medical expenses.
sued State Farm to recover for injuries Edith Nieves
sustained in an automobile accident with an uninsured
motorist. After trial, the jury returned a verdict finding
the uninsured motorist 100% at fault and awarded $1, 012,
665.60 in damages. Pursuant to the special verdict form, the
jury allocated the damages as follows: $26, 996.04 for past
medical damages, $377, 944.56 for future medical damages,
$27, 375.00 for past non-economic damages, $383, 250.00 for
future non-economic damages, $13, 140.00 for past lost
consortium, and $183, 960.00 for future lost consortium.
Farm moved for remittitur, challenging all damages the jury
awarded. The trial court denied the remittitur for all
damages, except for future medical damages. The trial court
found that "not all of the future medical expenses that
Plaintiff was awarded were testified to with sufficient
certainty" and granted remittitur for future medical
expenses only. The order expressly stated, "This
remittitur does not affect the non-economic damages or the
damages awarded from Plaintiff Matos' consortium claim;
those awards remain undisturbed."
State Farm rejected the remittitur and, pursuant to section
768.043, Florida Statutes, the trial court ordered a new
trial. However, the lower court included all damages in its
order for new trial, stating, "The statute makes clear
that the court has no discretion in this matter, and as such,
the court must order a new trial as to damages only."
768.043(1), Florida Statutes (2017), provides, in pertinent
In any action for the recovery of damages based on personal
injury . . . arising out of the operation of a motor vehicle,
. . . wherein the trier of fact determines that liability
exists on the part of the defendant and a verdict is rendered
which awards money damages to the plaintiff, it shall be the
responsibility of the court, upon proper motion, to review
the amount of such award to determine if such amount is
clearly excessive or inadequate in light of the facts and
circumstances which were presented to the trier of fact. If
the court finds that the amount awarded is clearly excessive
or inadequate, it shall order a remittitur or additur, as the
case may be. If the party adversely affected by such
remittitur or additur does not agree, the court shall order a
new trial in the cause on the issue of damages only.
when the parties agree with the trial court's amount of
remittitur or additur will the remittitur or additur be
enforced in lieu of a new trial." Waste Mgmt., Inc.
v. Mora, 940 So.2d 1105, 1109 (Fla. 2006). When the
parties do not agree, "it is appropriate for the trial
court to limit retrial" to one type of damages when
"special verdict forms . . . reflect that the
jurors' error occurred in that area of recovery
alone." ITT Hartford Ins. of the Se. v. Owens,
816 So.2d 572, 577-78 (Fla. 2002); see Astigarraga v.
Green, 712 So.2d 1183, 1184 (Fla. 2d DCA 1998)
("Because the remaining damages were supported by the
evidence, they are not subject to remittitur.").
Moreover, "to require a new trial as to all damage
elements, including those which the record reflects are not
in dispute, [results] in a needless waste of time and
resources for both the litigants and the trial judge."
ITT Hartford, 816 So.2d at 579. Hence, when
remittitur is granted solely for one type of damages, and
then that remittitur is rejected, the subsequent new trial
should be limited to the damages subject to the award of
a new trial limited to future medical damages was required
"[b]ecause the remaining damages were supported by the
evidence, [and] they [were] not subject to remittitur."
Astigarraga, 712 So.2d at 1184; see ITT
Hartford, 816 So.2d at 579.Accordingly, we quash the
order for new ...