Florida civil trial juries are given wide latitude in resolving factual conflicts. A verdict supported by evidence will be allowed to stand even if other evidence backs a contrary result. However, inconsistent and inadequate verdicts must be modified or reversed.
An "inconsistent" verdict can only be corrected by the jury that has rendered it. Before the jury is excused, the party or parties taking issue with the verdict must ask the court to instruct the jury on the inconsistencies and send it back for further deliberation. If the request is denied, the jury is excused.
A verdict is inconsistent where the jury's findings in two or more respects regarding a material fact is such that both cannot be true and therefore stand at the same time. In such circumstances, contradictory findings mutually destroy each other. See, Crawford v. DiMicco, 216 So.2d 769, 771 (Fla. 4th DCA 1968).
In personal injury cases, amounts awarded by the jury for past and future noneconomic damages (commonly referred to as pain and suffering) are sometimes challenged as being inconsistent. With regard to zero or low awards, the law is that
"A verdict is not necessarily inconsistent because it fails to award enough money, or perhaps no money at all, for future noneconomic damages after awarding past and future medical expenses and past lost earnings. Under such circumstances, the issue is the adequacy of the award, not its consistency with any other award by the verdict." Avakian v. Burger King Corp., 719 So.2d 342, 344 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998).Inadequate verdicts are corrected by the trial judge. A motion seeking the correction must be filed within fifteen (15) days of the verdict. See, Fla.R.Civ.P. 1.530(b). An "inadequate" verdict can be corrected by an additur, Florida Statute 768.74(2), or a new trial.
Florida courts have long recognized the duty of the trial court to grant a new trial if the verdict is against the manifest weight of the evidence. Cloud v. Fallis, 110 So. 2d 669, 673 (Fla. 1959); Miles v. Ware, 204 So. 2d 524, 526 (Fla. 3d DCA 1967). While a trial court's authority to grant a new trial where a verdict is grossly inadequate was well entrenched in Florida's common law, the Legislature codified the principle by enacting §768 74, Fla. Stat. ITT Hartford Insurance Co. of the Southeast v. Owens, 816 So. 2d 572, 579 (Fla. 2002). Fla. 2002).