Challenging Excessive Jury Verdicts

While it is difficult to prevail on the argument, it is possible for a trial court or appellate court to overturn a jury’s damages/money award as “excessive” in at least two circumstances.

The first situation is when the verdict is disproportionate to the evidence of injury and results from an “honest mistake” by the jury in assessing damages. Mayes v. UPS, Inc., 593 S.W.3d 604, 616-17 (Mo. Ct. App. 2019). When this type of error occurs, the usual remedy is that the trial court reduces the verdict as opposed to ordering an entirely new trial.

The second situation is where the verdict is excessive due to trial error that causes bias and prejudice by the jury. 617. This is a much higher bar and usually requires demonstrating that actual trial error or some misconduct of the prevailing party was responsible for prejudicing the jury. With this error, the usual remedy is a new trial.

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