Legal Memorandum: Appellate Review for a Jury's Award

Issue: What is the standard of appellate review in the Fifth Circuit tc "Standards of Review " l 2for a jury’s award of damages?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Jury's award; Aappellate court; Damages
Jurisdiction: Fifth Circuit
Cited Cases: 897 F.2d 1336; 767 F.2d 1151; 705 F.2d 778; 852 F.2d 1421
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 02/01/2000

When it evaluates whether a jury’s award is excessive, "the appellate court should step lightly or not at all." See In re Air Crash Disaster Near New Orleans, 767 F.2d 1151, 1155 (5th Cir. 1985);  De Centeno v. Gulf Fleet Crews, Inc., 798 F.2d 138, 141 (5th Cir. 1986).  A jury’s award should not be disturbed unless it is "entirely disproportionate to the injury sustained."  Caldarera v. Eastern Airlines Inc., 705 F.2d 778, 784 (5th Cir. 1983).  Pain and suffering and non‑economic considerations generally cannot easily be quantified with precision, and the jury thus necessarily has "especially broad leeway."  See Simeon v. T. Smith & Son, Inc., 852 F.2d 1421, 1427 (5th Cir. 1988).

A claim that damages are excessive is reviewed by comparing the awards at issue with rulings in other factually similar cases decided under controlling law.  Douglass v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., 897 F.2d 1336, 1339 (5th Cir. 1990); see also In re Air Crash Disaster, 767 F.2d at 1156 ("[f]or what rough guidance they provide, we examine past awards for similar injuries").


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