New Trial Subject to a Remittitur
A remittitur is a ruling lowering the amount of damages granted by a jury.
The trial court may grant a new trial subject to a remittitur if the verdict "is so large that 'it is beyond all reason or is so great as to shock the conscience.'" Sigal Construction Corp. v. Stanbury, 586 A.2d 1204, 1220 (D.C. 1991).
As this standard implies, "our own decisions, and hence the conduct of judges in the Superior Court, reflect an . . . unwillingness to interfere with the jury's calculation of damages" unless there is "firm support in the record" for such action. Finkelstein v. District of Columbia, 593 A.2d 591, 595, 596 (D.C. 1991) (en banc).
Once the trial court has set a damage award aside and stated its reasons, however, this court will "accord great deference" to that decision. Id.
Given both the traditional self-restraint exercised by trial courts in this area and the trial judge's unique opportunity to consider the evidence in the living court-room context, we have followed the rule -- and we do so today that we will reverse the grant of a new trial for excessive verdict only where the quantum of damages found by the jury was clearly within the maximum limit of a reasonable range. Every doubt on that score will be resolved in the trial court's favor. Id.
See also Louison v. Crockett, 546 A.2d 400, 403 (D.C. 1988); Lacy v. District of Columbia, 408 A.2d 985, 988-89 (D.C. 1979).