Monday, April 7, 2014

A jury's inconsistent verdict.

Practice point:  On appeal, defendant asserted that the jury's answers to the interrogatories were inconsistent and the trial court erred by failing to resubmit the verdict or, alternatively, order a new trial, pursuant to CPLR 4111[c], and the Appellate Division agreed.

As the verdict was inconsistent, pursuant to CPLR 4111(c), the court was obligated to either resubmit the interrogatories to the jury or order a new trial. The trial court improperly speculated as to the jury's thought process in attempting to reconcile the jury's answers with the evidence, based upon a theory that was not part of the jury's findings.

Student note:   Even though the parties focus their arguments on appeal on the issue of whether the verdict was a special or general verdict, the Appellate Division found that such a determination is unnecessary.  While CPLR 4111(c) only considers a new trial when the jury's answers to interrogatories are accompanied by a general verdict and there is an internal inconsistency, there is no reason why a new trial cannot be an available remedy where the jury has rendered a special verdict. In fact, when a verdict is inconsistent and the jury has been discharged, a new trial is the most appropriate remedy.

Case:  Bellinson Law, LLC v Iannucci, NY Slip Op 02219 (1st Dept. 2014).

Here is the decision.

Tomorrow's issue: An untimely appeal.