Kmart Corp. v. Kyles

In Kmart Corp. v. Kyles, 723 So. 2d 572 (Ala. 1998) a case involving a malicious prosecution, this Court held that the jury had abused its discretion in awarding compensatory damages of $ 100,000, of which $ 90,000 was for mental anguish, because: "The only evidence of Kyles's alleged mental suffering was her husband's testimony that she cried on one occasion -- when she telephoned him to say that she had been arrested." (Kyles, 723 So. 2d at 577-78.) In Kmart Corp. v. Kyles, the jury awarded the plaintiff $ 100,000 in compensatory damages and $ 100,000 in punitive damages in her malicious-prosecution case against Kmart Corporation. Kmart suspected Kyles of shoplifting lawn chairs from the front of the store, and it subsequently had a warrant sworn out for her arrest. The grand jury no-billed the charge. Kyles sued Kmart and its loss-prevention employee. At trial, however, Kyles presented no testimony or other evidence indicating that the circumstances surrounding her arrest had caused her to suffer mental anguish, other than her husband's testimony that she cried when she telephoned to ask him to pick her up at the jail. The Court ordered a remittitur of her compensatory damages to $ 15,000, reasoning that this was the greatest amount of compensatory damages that a jury, using sound discretion, could have awarded her. A plaintiff is required only to present some evidence of mental anguish, and once the plaintiff has done so the question whether the plaintiff has suffered mental anguish and, if so, the question of how much compensation the plaintiff is entitled to for the mental anguish are questions for the jury. Kyles, 723 So. 2d at 578. The amount of the jury's award is left to the jury's sound discretion, and it will not be set aside absent a clear abuse of discretion. Id. A jury's verdict is presumed correct, and that presumption is strengthened by the trial court's denial of a motion for a new trial. Id.