appeal from the Circuit Court for Alachua County. Monica J.
Reiter and Robert C. Weill of GrayRobinson, P.A., Miami;
Maria A. Santoro and Teresa Ward of Dennis, Jackson, Martin &
Fontela, P.A., Tallahassee, for Appellant.
Michael Morgan and Harris I. Yegelwel of Morgan & Morgan,
P.A., Orlando; Thomas J. Seider of Brannock & Humphries,
Tampa; and Richard D. Stratton of Beasley, Allen, Crow,
Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C., Montgomery, AL, for Appellee.
an e-cigarette exploded in Appellees mouth and damaged
several of his teeth, he sued the companies that manufactured
and sold the e-cigarette and its component parts. The
appellant, R-L Sales, LLC, was the only remaining defendant at
the time of the trial, and the jury found it 100% at fault
for Appellees injuries. The jury awarded Appellee nearly
$48,000 for medical expenses and $2 million for "pain
and suffering, disfigurement, inconvenience, and loss of
enjoyment of life." The trial court denied R-L Sales
post-verdict motion for new trial or remittitur and entered a
final judgment in the amount of the jury verdict less
collateral source setoffs. This appeal followed.
did below, R-L Sales argues on appeal that (1) the trial
court should have allowed it to introduce evidence that
Appellee was a methamphetamine (meth) user and (2) the
noneconomic damage award is excessive and should be reduced.
We reject both arguments and affirm the final judgment.
respect to the first issue, R-L Sales sought to introduce
evidence that Appellee was a meth user to show that his need
for extensive restorative dental work was largely
attributable to the corrosive effects of meth on his teeth
and not the e-cigarette explosion. The trial court excluded
the evidence as irrelevant and more prejudicial than
probative. We find no abuse of discretion in that ruling.
Although the fact that Appellee already had extensive dental
problems was relevant to the jurys determination of the
extent of damages attributable to the e-cigarette explosion,
the cause of Appellees preexisting dental
problems— i.e., whether it was meth use, too many
sugary drinks, or simply extremely poor dental hygiene—
was not relevant to any issue the jury had to decide.
Moreover, because evidence of illegal drug use is inherently
prejudicial, even if the cause of Appellees preexisting
dental problems had some marginal relevance, the probative
value of the evidence that Appellee was a meth user was
substantially outweighed by its prejudicial effect.
See Shaw v. Jain, 914 So.2d 458 (Fla. 1st
DCA 2005); Nichols v. Benton, 718 So.2d 925 (Fla.
1st DCA 1998).
respect to the second issue, we find no abuse of
discretion in the trial courts denial of R-L
Sales motion for remittitur of the noneconomic damage award.
Even though the award is substantial, it has adequate record
support, and it is not so large that it shocks
the judicial conscience. Accordingly, like the trial court,
we have no basis to set aside or reduce the award.
these reasons, the final ...