Verdict Interpretation, Inconsistent Verdicts

When interpreting a jury’s verdict, the Court reviews the entire record to discern the intent of the jury. Robinson v. Riverside Concrete, Inc., 544 S.W. 2d. 865, 871 (Mo. Ct. App. 1976). Courts are deferential to a jury’s findings; to that end, liberal regard is given to a verdict so that the court may give it effect whenever possible. Haley v. Byers Transportation Company, 394 S.W.2d 412, 415 (Mo. 1965).

An inconsistent verdict arises when a jury’s finding on one issue negates a finding on another issue. Similarly, an inconsistent verdict may rise where a jury finds on one issue without finding on another legally necessary issue. See, eg, Williams v. Williams, 99 S.W.3d 552, 556 (Mo. Ct. App. 2003) (it is an inconsistent verdict to award punitive damages without an award of actual or nominal damages). Important, if there is an inconsistent verdict, that objection must be presented to the trial court before the jury is discharged or the claim of inconsistency is waived. Douglass v. Safire, 712 S.W.2d 373, 374 (Mo. 1986).

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