Correll v. Elkins, H--376

Decision Date09 February 1967
Docket NumberNo. H--376,H--376
Citation195 So.2d 27
PartiesAnnie Bryant CORRELL and Oscar Correll, Appellants, v. Roger Lee ELKINS and James Elkins, Appellees.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

Paul R. Stern, Daytona Beach, for appellants.

Hull, Landis, Graham & French, Daytona Beach, for appellees.

CARROLL, DONALD K., Judge.

The plaintiffs in an automobile collision action have appealed from a final judgment entered by the Circuit Court for Volusia County based upon a jury verdict in which damages were awarded to the plaintiff wife but the verdict from was left blank as to the damages for the plaintiff husband.

The basic question presented for our determination in this appeal is whether the said verdict was proper under the law and the trial evidence.

This is an action by a married woman, joined by her husband, for personal injuries which she received in a rear-end collision, whereby the defendants' automobile rammed into the back of the automobile which the plaintiff wife was driving. By their complaint the plaintiff wife seeks damages for pain and suffering, loss of earnings, loss of earning capacity, and permanent disability, and the plaintiff husband seeks damages for present and future medical expenses and for loss of her services and of consortium. At no time and in no way before, during, or after the trial did the plaintiff wife herself seek compensation for medical expenses, past, present, or future. At the trial the plaintiffs introduced in evidence various medical bills incurred as a result of the plaintiff wife's injuries. At the conclusion of the trial the court instructed the jury as to the plaintiff wife's and the plaintiff husband's separate elements of damage, essentially in accordance with he elements alleged in the plaintiff's complaint. The court did not instruct the jury that the plaintiff wife could recover for medical expenses, and the court was not requested to do so. Nevertheless, after receiving the court's instructions as above outlined, the jury retired to deliberate and returned the following verdict:

'We, the Jury, find for the Plaintiff, ANNIE BRYANT CORRELL, and against the Defendants, ROGER LEE ELKINS and JAMES ELKINS, and assess her damages in the amount of Fifteen Hundred Dollars ($1500.00) and we further find for the Plaintiff, OSCAR CORRELL, and against the Defendants, ROGER LEE ELKINS and JAMES ELKINS, and assess his damages in the amount of _ _ Dollars ($_ _).'

As mentioned above, the real question on appeal involves the validity of this verdict in the light of the pleadings, evidence, and jury instructions. This question places the instant case in one of the most controversial and difficult areas in our jurisprudence today--the right of a trial or appellate court to disturb a jury verdict in an action at law. In such an action the jurors are the triers of the facts at issue, and a trial or appellate court is not ordinarily justified in substituting its judgment for that of the jury as to questions of fact. Nevertheless, in order to preserve the rule of law in our court system, the courts have retained and must exercise the right to assure that such verdict be in conformity with the law. Without that right, our juries might be free to roam at will and, at their whim, determine important questions of personal or property rights, in disregard of the law and evidence. Thus, in certain exceptional cases the courts may disturb jury vcrdicts when not conforming to the law, and we think this is one of those cases under the decisional law of this state.

The Florida case involving a situation most nearly analogous to that in the case at bar is Fejer v. Whitehall Laboratories, Inc., 182 So.2d 438 (Fla.App.1966). In that case an action was brought by a husband and wife for injuries sustained by the wife, for medical expenses paid by the husband, and for the husband's loss of his wife's society and companionship. At the trial the jury returned the following verdict:

'We, the jury, find for the plaintiff GABRIELE FEJER and assess her damages in the sum of Seventeen Hundred ($1,700.00) Dollars and for the plaintiff STEFAN FEJER in the sum of No. ($0.00) Dollars so say we, all,'

In this Fejer case the District Court of Appeal, Third District of Florida, said concerning the effect of the quoted verdict:

'Subsequently the plaintiff-husband moved for a new trial on the issue of damages only claiming that the verdict was defective in that liability was determined in favor of the plaintiff and his damages were assessed at No Dollars although he had proven damages in the form of doctors, medicine and transportation expenses together with a showing of future medical expenses and the loss of his wife's society and companionship. The trial judge denied this motion.

'Plaintiff-husband's contention on appeal is that the trial court erred in refusing to grant a new trial on the issue of his damages. We agree with this contention. An examination of the record supports the claim that the husband has suffered some damages, even if only the medical bills are considered. Further, the wife did not request nor did she attempt to prove that such damages should be...

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4 cases
  • Webber v. Jordan
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • December 6, 1978
    ...if a jury's intent can be divined from the face of the verdict, then we believe the verdict should be upheld. Correll v. Elkins, 195 So.2d 27 (Fla.1st DCA 1967), is distinguishable because in that case there was no way to know whether the wife's medical expenses had been included as part of......
  • Dixon v. Wright
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • October 7, 1968
    ...responsible for his wife's medical expenses and it is he and not his wife who is entitled to be compensated for them. Correll v. Elkins, Fla.App.1967, 195 So.2d 27. See also Hatchell v. Hayes, Fla.App.1963, 157 So.2d 855, quashed at Fla., 166 So.2d In Florida the rule is that contributory n......
  • Manatee Convalescent Center, Inc. v. McDonald
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • December 31, 1980
    ...responsible for the necessaries of his spouse, and medical expenses fall clearly within that category of obligations. Correll v. Elkins, 195 So.2d 27 (Fla. 1st DCA 1967); Holiday Hospital Association v. Schwarz, 166 So.2d 493 (Fla. 2d DCA 1964). Historically, courts were never called upon t......
  • Grace v. Sondheimer, 71-2722.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit
    • April 26, 1972
    ...compensated for them. 214 So.2d at 788. See also Loftin v. Anderson, 66 So.2d 470 (Fla.1953) (on petition for rehearing); Correll v. Elkins, 195 So.2d 27 (Fla.App.1967); Hatchell v. Hayes, 157 So.2d 855 (Fla. App.1963). There is present in the instant case uncontradicted evidence of medical......

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