Anderson v. Sears Case Brief

Summary of Anderson v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., U S D Ct 377 F Supp 136 [1974]

Damage: Personal Injuries

Relevant Facts: Helen Britain, a young child, was severely burned when her home was completely destroyed by fire. The fire was caused by a heater which was found to be negligently manufactured by the Dfs. She was burned over 40 % of her body, 3rd degree burns cover 80% of her scalp. She was hospitalized for 28 days, where she developed pneumonia, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, infection, req numerous transfusions, underwent skin grafts, Keloid scarring, her fingers adhered together, scarring bent her arm at the elbow, scarring on her legs impaired walking.

Legal Issue(s): Whether the jury exceeded the maximum recovery allowed in accordance with the evidence presented?

Court’s Holding: Yes

Procedure: Jury awarded 2 mil in favor of Pl; Df remittur; Judgment Affirmed.

Law or Rule(s): The court’s task in ascertaining the maximum recovery rule is to utilize five elements of damages: Past physical and mental pain; Future physical and mental pain; Future medical expenses; Loss of earning capacity and Permanent disability and disfigurement.

Court Rationale: Testimony revealed Helen’s persistent emotional and mental disturbance is evidenced by bed wetting, nightmares, refusing to sleep alone, withdrawal, and speech impediments. She was burned over 40 % of her body, 3rddegree burns cover 80% of her scalp. She was hospitalized for 28 days, where she developed pneumonia, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, infection, req numerous transfusions, underwent skin grafts, Keloid scarring, her fingers adhered together, scarring bent her arm at the elbow, scarring on her legs impaired walking. The stretching and pulling of scar tissue will continue to cause severe pain and limit her motion. There will be renewed pain, risks, and trauma from the 27 surgeries awaiting her. She will be deprived a normal social life, and will never find a husband and raise a family. She will be subjected to stares, rejection, and tactless inquiries. Her injuries will prevent her from earning a living for the rest of her life. The jury had the prerogative of awarding up to 2.98 million, and the 2 mil award is well within the periphery established by the maximum award test.

Plaintiff’s Argument: Helen will be in severe physical and emotional pain for the rest of her life, she has extensive scarring and must undergo numerous surgeries throughout her remaining years.

Defendant’s Argument: The jury exceeded the maximum recovery that a jury could have reasonably found under the evidence. Introduction of the photos and the presence of Helen in the courtroom prejudices and biased the award of the jury.




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