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Casualty Litigation

A Quick Note about Pain and Suffering Disclosures in Federal Court

A Quick Note about Pain and Suffering Disclosures in Federal Court

In federal court, personal injury plaintiffs are required to disclose a computation of each category of damages.  Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(1)(A)(iii).  Past medical expenses and past lost wages are easy.  But for pain and suffering, plaintiffs often say the damages can be quantified only by the jury.  For example, the pain and suffering jury instruction in Florida’s federal courts states “There is no exact standard for measuring such damage.  The amount should be fair and just in the light of the evidence.”  Fla.Std. Jury Instr. (Civ) 501.3. 

Still, this does not necessarily mean the plaintiff is unable to quantify and disclose a dollar amount for pain and suffering.  Some courts in Florida’s Middle District have flatly stated the value of pain and suffering damages must be disclosed.  E.g. Hawes v. Tynda Holdings LLC, No. 6:17-cv-1550-Orl-40TBS, 2018 WL 3208370 (M.D. Fla. June 29, 2018); Babadjide v. Betts, No. 6:17-cv-658-Orl-28TBS, 2018 WL 963404 (M.D. Fla. Feb. 20, 2018).  

Other courts in the Middle and Southern Districts have permitted plaintiffs to punt on this disclosure, but only on the condition that they do not ask the jury for a specific dollar amount for pain and suffering.  E.g. Thorpe v. BJ’s Restaurants, Inc., No. 6:17-cv-1162-Orl-18TBS, 2017 WL 10084190 (M.D. Fla. Oct. 20, 2017); Nagele v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., No. 17-22559-CIV-KING/GARBER, 2017 WL 6398337 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 13, 2017); Avrett v. Festival Fun Parks, LLC, No. 15-80525-CIV-MIDDLEBROOKS/BRANNON, 2016 WL 193805 (S.D. Fla. Jan. 15, 2016).  

Depending upon the District, the Defense should be able to force the plaintiff to convert their pain and suffering into a specific dollar amount at the start of the case.