Legal Memorandum: Noneconomic Damages in Personal Injury Cases

Issue: With respect to damages in personal-injury cases, what may be included in noneconomic damages in the Virgin Islands?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Personal-injury cases; Noneconomic damages
Jurisdiction: Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 07/01/2012

Typically, noneconomic damages can include “reasonable compensation for permanent or temporary injury,” pain, and physical and mental suffering.  Brown v. McBro Planning & Dev. Co., 660 F. Supp. at 1338 (emphasis added). 

In Brown, the jury awarded damages of $1 million in a slip-and-fall case occurring at a hospital in St. Thomas.  The plaintiff chipped a kneecap and had a small tear in the meniscus (cartilage behind the kneecap).  He wore a soft cast for four weeks and returned to work as an EMT after six weeks.  He later had arthroscopic surgery to repair the tear to the meniscus.  His total permanent disability was determined to be five percent, at most.  No evidence established loss of future earnings or loss of future earning capacity.  Id. at 1338.  The plaintiff’s initial medical expenses were covered by insurance; the knee surgery cost $2242.45 and the associated wage loss was $2074.  Id. at 1338-39.  There was testimony as to how the knee injury affected the plaintiff’s ability to help his family. 

The court reviewed both the evidence presented at trial and several personal-injury cases involving knee injuries to determine an appropriate award.  It noted that “[a]fter such a review, it is clear to the court that a one million dollar award is grossly excessive – it is far in excess of the vast majority of damage awards given in similar cases from all over the country.”  Id. at 1339.  The court gave the plaintiff a choice between a reduced […]

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