Wichers v. Hatch
In Wichers v. Hatch, 252 Conn. 174, 188-89, 745 A.2d 789 (2000), the Court held that a jury is not required to award noneconomic damages merely because it has awarded economic damages.
Wichers did not hold that if an award of a particular item of damages, in light of the evidence and the instructions given, necessarily means that the jury found that the plaintiff also suffered noneconomic damages, the jury was somehow free to award nothing for the noneconomic damages it found proved. See also Schroeder v. Triangulum Associates, 259 Conn. 325, 333, 789 A.2d 459 (2002) ("jury reasonably could not have initially found the defendant liable for the expense of the surgery but not responsible for any pain or disability attendant to such surgery").
To the contrary, Wichers held that "the jury's decision to award economic damages and zero noneconomic damages is best tested in light of the circumstances of the particular case before it." Wichers v. Hatch, supra, 252 Conn. at 188.
The Supreme Court concluded that the per se rule from Johnson was no longer useful or viable and therefore overruled Johnson. Id., 188.
The Court held that "the jury's decision to award economic damages and zero noneconomic damages is best tested in light of the circumstances of the particular case before it." Id.
The Supreme Court reiterated the test that a court must apply in exercising its discretion in such cases.
"A mere doubt of the adequacy of the verdict is an insufficient basis for such action. . . . A conclusion that the jury exercised merely poor judgment is likewise insufficient. . . . The ultimate test which must be applied to the verdict by the trial court is whether the jury's award falls somewhere within the necessarily uncertain limits of just damages or whether the size of the verdict so shocks the sense of justice as to compel the conclusion that the jury were influenced by partiality, prejudice, mistake or corruption." Id., at 187.