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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Dropping Plaintiff Can’t Evade Prices by Pointing to Indigency or Jury Discovering of Warning inadequacy 


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Thelen v. Somatics, LLC, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165819 (Magazine. M.D. Fla. Sept. 18, 2023), is the most recent chapter in a saga we now have coated earlier than. (We mentioned selections on knowledgeable admissibility right here, invalid claims right here, confidentiality of medical data right here, and the plaintiff’s extremely uncommon demand for a plant inspection right here.) The plaintiff claimed to have suffered accidents on account of electroconvulsive remedy (ECT).  The plaintiff sued the producer of the ECT medical system, pursuing causes of motion for negligence, strict legal responsibility, breach of guarantee, and violation of the Nebraska Client Safety Act. 

The plaintiff in the end went to trial on his remaining claims (negligence and strict legal responsibility)  and recovered … nothing. The jury discovered a warning defect, which was good for the plaintiff, but additionally discovered no proximate causation, which was even nicer for the defendant.  Total, we’d need to say the end result was a lot nicer for the defendant than the plaintiff.  A discovering of legal responsibility and an award of zero damages is a protection win and a plaintiff loss in anybody’s e-book, proper?

The court docket clerk entered a judgment in favor of the defendant. Then the court docket directed the defendant to file a invoice of prices.  The defendant did so. Prices exceeded $39,000. Then the plaintiff moved the court docket to overview the prices. The defendant disagreed. Now the prices difficulty was teed up for the Justice of the Peace Decide. 

So what? Whereas the disposition of particular person price gadgets is case-specific and never particularly blogworthy, the court docket’s rejection of the plaintiff’s two normal arguments in opposition to taxation of prices is important.  

First, the plaintiff claimed that, since a defect was discovered, the defendant was not a “prevailing celebration” regardless of its profitable an total protection verdict.  Good strive. (Not likely).  The last word end result, that the plaintiff took nothing, is all that issues.  This was not a combined consequence case the place each events prevailed on a few of their claims.  The judgment right here was just for the defendant.  When that occurs, the defendant is the prevailing celebration and is entitled to prices.  “Accordingly, the court docket finds that Defendant is the prevailing celebration underneath Rule 54(d) and is thus entitled to a presumption of taxable prices.”

Second, the plaintiff’s claimed indigency was no foundation to disclaim prices.  The plaintiff argued that “the court docket ought to train its discretion and decline to award prices due to Plaintiff’s monetary standing.”  There’s, in actual fact and regulation, room for judicial discretion on this space. However the Thelen Justice of the Peace “decline[d] to suggest contemplating Plaintiff’s monetary standing in assessing the taxation of prices.”  Not solely did the plaintiff fail to assist the declare with something greater than his personal self-serving statements, however the “relative wealth” of the events will not be a think about entitlement to prices.  Restricted sources don’t overcome the ”sturdy presumption”  {that a} prevailing celebration is entitled to prices.

The Justice of the Peace Decide in Thelen then took an in depth tour by way of prices of trial transcripts, deposition charges, photocopy charges, scientific article charges, witness charges, and clerk charges. The court docket ended up sustaining among the plaintiff’s objections and minimize the prices invoice all the way down to roughly $27,000. That train in flyspecking could be helpful for a few of you, wherein case it is best to flip by way of the opinion. We don’t discover a lot of normal curiosity within the court docket’s price accounting selections. They’re definitely not surprising.

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