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Bernard F. Ganski, Jr. and Lorraine V. v. Cassandra Wolff

August 7, 2012

BERNARD F. GANSKI, JR. AND LORRAINE V. GANSKI
v.
CASSANDRA WOLFF



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas J. Rueter United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

Presently before the court is plaintiffs' Motion For A New Trial Pursuant To Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(a)(1)(A) (the "Motion") (Doc. 74), defendant's response thereto (the "Response") (Doc. 75), plaintiffs' Amended Memorandum of Law In Support of the Motion (Doc. 82) and defendant's response thereto (the "Supp. Response") (Doc. 83). For the reasons that follow, plaintiffs' Motion is denied.

I. BACKGROUND

This is an automobile accident case. On June 11, 2007, plaintiff Bernard Ganski's automobile, a Honda SUV, was struck in the rear by an automobile driven by defendant, Cassandra Wolff Berger. The accident occurred in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. On May 4, 2009, plaintiffs filed an action in this court, with plaintiff Bernard Ganski alleging a claim of negligence (Count I) and Lorraine Ganski alleging a claim for loss of consortium (Count II).

As a result of the impact from the collision, plaintiff's vehicle rolled over twice. (N.T. 5/14/12 at 23, 25.) Bernard Ganski was restrained by a lap/shoulder belt. At the scene, plaintiff was seen by Emergency Medical Technicians ("EMT") and taken by ambulance to Chester-Crozier Hospital. Id. at 34. As a result of the accident, plaintiff claimed he suffered cervical and lumbar disc herniations with radiculopathy and a tear of the medial meniscus of the left knee. (Compl. ¶ 9; N.T. 5/14/12 at 56-58.) In addition, he claimed he suffered "left-sided brain damage" that resulted in linguistic deficits and loss of memory and concentration. He also experienced personality changes that caused he and his wife to separate. (Pls.' Pre-Trial Memo. at 2; N.T. 5/14/12 at 11-12.) Further, Mr. Ganski claimed he suffered a loss of earnings of $524,360.33; he worked as an accountant and audit manager for a large corporation. (N.T. 5/14/12 at 47.)*fn1 Finally, Lorraine Ganski claimed that the injuries her husband sustained in the accident caused a severe strain on their marital relationship and caused her to suffer a loss of companionship with her husband. (Mem. of Law Supp. Mot. at 3).

The court conducted a jury trial that commenced on May 11, 2012 and concluded on May 16, 2012. Defendant stipulated that she breached her duty of care, but asserted that her negligence was not a factual cause of the injuries claimed by plaintiffs. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of defendant.

On June 12, 2012, plaintiffs filed the Motion. Defendant opposes the Motion. Trial transcripts were filed with the court. Thereafter, the parties submitted supplemental memoranda.

II. DISCUSSION

A decision to grant or deny a motion for new trial is within the sound discretion of the trial judge. Bonjorno v. Kaiser Aluminum & Chem. Corp., 752 F.2d 802, 812 (3d Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 477 U.S. 908 (1986). A court should not grant a new trial unless the moving party meets the heavy burden of showing that the verdict is clearly against the weight of the evidence or is necessary to prevent a miscarriage of justice. Roebuck v. Drexel Univ., 852 F.2d 715, 735-36 (3d Cir. 1988).

Plaintiffs advance two arguments in support of the Motion. They argue that "(1) the jury's verdict was against the weight of the evidence at trial; and (2) it was a prejudicial error of law to include the first question on the Jury Verdict Form in light of the fact that Plaintiff produced uncontested evidence that the accident caused Plaintiff Bernard Ganski some degree of harm." (Mem. of Law Supp. Mot. at 2.)

The court will address the second of these arguments first.

1. The Question On The Jury Verdict Form

Under Pennsylvania law, in order for plaintiffs to establish defendant's negligence, they must prove four elements: "(1) a duty or obligation recognized by law; (2) a breach of that duty; (3) a causal connection between the conduct and the resulting injury; and (4) actual damage." Grossman v. Barke, 868 A.2d 561, 566 (Pa. Super. Ct.), appeal denied, 889

A.2d 89 (Pa. 2005) (Table). In the instant case, defendant stipulated only to the first two elements, i.e., duty and breach of duty. Defendant contested at trial whether there was any causal connection between her conduct and the injuries claimed by ...


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