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Tomorrow, March 14, 2015, is Pi Day. (3.1415, don’t you see?) In honor thereof, I present:

Kumar v PI Assoc., LLC,

___ AD3d ___, 2015 NY Slip Op 00849 [1st Dept., 2015]

When a verdict is internally inconsistent, the allowable remedies are either sending the jury back to reconsider or a new trial. The trial court may not resolve the inconsistency by making its own findings of fact.

This was a sidewalk trip-and-fall in front of a storefront owned by the defendant PI Associates and leased to the defendant Pretty Girl. The jury found that the plaintiff, PI and Pretty Girl were all negligent, but that only Pretty Girl’s negligence was a proximate cause of the accident. The jury then apportioned fault at 80% against Pretty Girl and 10% each against plaintiff and PI. The apportionment against plaintiff and PI was, of course, inconsistent with the finding of lack of causation.

The inconsistency was immediately recognized by the court and the parties. Rather than send the jury back for further consideration, the court discharged the jury and entertained motions. Plaintiff moved to set aside the inconsistent verdict and for a directed verdict finding that PI’s negligence was a proximate cause. PI, for its part, moved to set the inconsistent verdict aside and for a directed verdict setting its share of fault at zero. Supreme Court chose a third alternative, setting the verdict aside and issuing a directed verdict finding the negligence of both plaintiff and PI to have been proximate causes of the accident. Read More