Zimmer, Inc. v. Birnbaum, 4D98-4071.

Decision Date29 March 2000
Docket NumberNo. 4D98-4071.,4D98-4071.
Citation758 So.2d 714
PartiesZIMMER, INC., an Indiana corporation, Appellant, v. Jeffrey D. BIRNBAUM, and Wendy Birnbaum, his wife, Appellees.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

Wendy F. Lumish, and Jeffrey A. Cohen of Carlton, Fields, Ward, Emmanuel, Smith & Cutler, P.A., Miami, for appellant.

Philip M. Burlington of Caruso, Burlington, Bohn & Compiani, P.A., West Palm Beach, and E. Hugh Chappell, Jr. of E. Hugh Chappell, Jr., P.A., Fort Lauderdale, for appellees.


Zimmer, Inc. appeals a final judgment entered against it in a products liability suit filed by appellees, Jeffrey and Wendy Birnbaum. The defective products were steel rods surgically inserted into Jeffrey's back to correct a spinal condition. Under the facts of this case, Zimmer compellingly argues that the trial court erred in failing to identify the surgeon who installed the rods as the "ordinary consumer"1 for the purpose of the jury charge found at PL5, Florida Standard Jury Instructions, Products Liability.

However, the two issue rule precludes us from reaching that issue. The jury charge gave the jury two standards for determining whether the product was unreasonably dangerous—the ordinary consumer test and the risk benefit test. Zimmer concedes that the risk benefit test was appropriate to use in this case. The verdict form did not require the jury to identify its basis for deciding that the product was defective. Zimmer did not object at trial to the use of the verdict form. The jury might properly have decided that the rods were defective based on a risk benefit analysis. Even if we found error in the definition of the ordinary consumer test or in its submission to the jury, under the two issue rule, Zimmer is unable to demonstrate prejudice to justify a reversal. See Barth v. Khubani, 748 So.2d 260 (Fla. 1999)


As the supreme court explained in Barth:

The "two issue rule" provides:

[W]here there is no proper objection to the use of a general verdict, reversal is improper where no error is found as to one of two issues submitted to the jury on the basis that the appellant is unable to establish that he has been prejudiced.
Whitman v. Castlewood Int'l Corp., 383 So.2d 618, 619 (Fla.1980). The rule is based on the principle that reversal is improper where no error is found as to one of the issues that can independently support the jury's verdict. See Colonial Stores, Inc. ., v. Scarbrough, 355 So.2d 1181, 1186 (Fla.1977)

. In Colonial Stores, this Court cautioned that although it may seem that injustice might result from application of the "two issue rule," the rule is an economical tool that limits appellate review to issues that actually affect the case and that litigants may avoid application of the rule by simply requesting a special verdict that would illuminate the jury's decision making process and the affect [sic] of any alleged error: "It should be remembered... that the remedy is always in the hands of counsel." Id.

When a general verdict for the plaintiff is on review, the rule is applied by focusing on the causes of action, such that an

To continue reading

Request your trial
12 cases
  • In re Standard Jury Insts. in Civil Cases—Report No. 09–10 (Prods. Liab.)
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • May 17, 2012
    ...The committee notes, however, that the two issue rule may be implicated if both tests of design defect are used. Zimmer Inc. v. Birnbaum, 758 So.2d 714 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000). The committee is of the view that, in Florida, the ultimate burden of persuasion in cases submitted to the jury remain......
  • Marriott International, Inc. v. Perez-Melendez
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • July 25, 2003
    ...of establishing error as to each theory of liability or defense is on the non-moving party. Barth. For example, in Zimmer, Inc. v. Birnbaum, 758 So.2d 714 (Fla. 4th DCA), review denied, 786 So.2d 1193 (Fla.2000), the court applied the two-issue rule in a products liability case because the ......
  • In re Standard Jury Instructions in Civil Cases—Report No. 13–01
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • March 26, 2015
    ...The committee notes, however, that the two-issue rule may be implicated if both tests of design defect are used. Zimmer Inc. v. Birnbaum, 758 So.2d 714 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000).4. In Force v. Ford Motor Co., 879 So.2d 103, 107 (Fla. 5th DCA 2004), the parties agreed to a risk/benefit instruction......
  • Leggett Group, Inc. v. Davis
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • October 10, 2007
    ...legal"). TWO ISSUE RULE Davis urges affirmance based on the "two issue rule." We addressed the "two issue rule" in Zimmer, Inc. v. Birnbaum, 758 So.2d 714 (Fla. 4th DCA 2000). In Zimmer, as in, this case, a general verdict form was submitted, without objection, to the jury based on two alte......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT