jury, I made quite clear the limited purpose for which this evidence had been admitted, saying:
'I want to call your attention to the fact that after the plaintiff left the ship he went out on two other ships * * * and in his experience on those ships he found that his hands again had this trouble. * * *
' * * * But that doesn't make this particular defendant responsible for anything that may have happened to him on those ships. This defendant isn't liable for any infection that may have come from those other two ships. That testimony was put into the record in this case for the purpose of showing that the plaintiff here was susceptible to this type of breaking out * * * and that is the only reason that is put into the case. It isn't put into the case to give the plaintiff damages for these particular injuries, because plaintiff isn't entitled to damages for these particular injuries.'
Defendants' fifth reason for requesting a new trial, namely, that the verdict was grossly excessive, has much merit. It is obvious that the $ 15,500 verdict was largely for future loss of income because of diminution of earning power brought about by plaintiff's inability to handle satisfactorily a job in which his hands come into contact with kerosene and other solvents. The sensitivity of his skin has no significance in other types of jobs. It is clear, however, that the diminution of earning power is not very great. After the sensitivity of the skin had been created during the voyage on the Archibald Mansfield, plaintiff, after a physical examination, took a job on the Sir John Franklin, which job was similar to the one he had on the Archibald Mansfield. He took this second job in May, 1948, and continued on it until September, 1949. His skin trouble re-occurred during his service on this second ship, but apparently the skin trouble was not very disabling because he served on this second ship for 16 months and after he left the second ship he took a similar job on another ship, where he served two months longer. On these ships, although suffering from his skin condition, he earned considerably more than he had earned before his skin trouble arose. He admitted in his testimony that his skin eruptions were not so painful or disabling that they would prevent him from taking a job aboard ship if he could get such a job.
A trial judge should disturb a jury's award of damages only with great reluctance, but there are occasions when this must be done, and, in my opinion, this is one of these occasions. The principal item of damage in this case, namely, diminution of earning power, is not sufficiently great to support a verdict of $ 15,500. In my opinion, any award in excess of $ 10,000 is improper.
And now, this 14th day of August, 1950, in accordance with the foregoing opinion, it is ordered that the motion of defendants, John J. Boland, John J. Boland, Jr., Adam E. Cornelius and Adam E. Cornelius, Jr., trading as Boland and Cornelius, for judgment notwithstanding the verdict be and it is hereby denied, and that the motion of defendants for a new trial is granted unless plaintiff, James C. Rodgers, within ten (10) days after service of this order, shall, in a writing filed with the Clerk of the United States District Court in and for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, remit all damages above the sum of $ 10,000.