Brief Fact Summary.
Magnani filed a complaint against Trogi seeking damages for wrongful death and reimbursement of funeral and medical expenses under applicable Illinois state laws. A single form of verdict was submitted by the court to the jury, with no objection from either party. The trial judge, noting that it was not clear whether the jury’s $19,000 verdict, assessed against Trogi, applied to one or both counts of the complaint, ordered a new trial.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
Appellate courts generally do not disturb trial court decisions on a motion for a new trial absent an affirmative showing of a clear abuse of discretion.
Magnani filed a complaint against defendant seeking damages for wrongful death under the Illinois Wrongful Death Act and reimbursement of funeral and medical expenses under the Illinois Family Expense Statute. Although the complaint alleged two separate causes of action, a single form of verdict was submitted by the court to the jury. Neither party objected to the single form of verdict. The jury assessed $19,000 in damages against Trogi. Trogi moved for a new trial. The trial judge, noting that it was not clear whether the jury’s $19,000 verdict applied to one or both counts, ordered a new trial.
Did the trial judge abuse his discretion by granting a new trial?
No. The trial judge did not abuse his discretion in ordering a new trial.
The dissent argued that Trogi’s motion for a new trial should have been denied because there was nothing in the record to indicate that Trogi timely objected to the single form of verdict or suffered any prejudice.
The trial judge has the power to grant a new trial to correct errors that may have been made during the course of trial. The trial court is in the best position to consider the effects of any such errors, and so its decision on a motion for a new trial is generally not disturbed absent a clear abuse of discretion. In the situation presented in this case, it was not an abuse of discretion for the trial judge to grant a new trial.