How to Calculate ''Mental Anguish Damages'' In the Absence of Evidence ?
In Casteel v. Crown Life Ins. Co., 3 S.W.3d 582 (Tex. App.--Austin 1997), the Court held that the evidence supported a finding that Casteel "suffered from past mental anguish." 3 S.W.3d at 593.
The court concluded, however, that "nothing in the record shows that the award of $ 6,000,000 is fair and reasonable compensation for that anguish." Id. (citing Saenz, 925 S.W.2d at 614).
Casteel does not hold that to recover mental-anguish damages, a plaintiff must present direct evidence of the value of mental anguish.
Casteel does no more than adhere to the Saenz holding that there must be evidence to justify the amount awarded and that the amount must be fair and reasonable. See id.
"An award of mental anguish damages will survive a legal sufficiency challenge when the plaintiffs have introduced direct evidence of the nature, duration, and severity of their mental anguish, thus establishing that there was a substantial disruption in [their] daily routine." Parkway Co. v. Woodruff, 901 S.W.2d 434, 444 (Tex. 1995).
In the absence of such direct evidence, we apply traditional no-evidence standards to determine whether the record reveals any evidence of "a high degree of mental pain and distress" that is "more than mere worry, anxiety, vexation, embarrassment, or anger" to support any award of damages. Id. (citing J.B. Custom Design & Bldg. v. Clawson, 794 S.W.2d 38, 43 (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 1990, no writ)).
Direct evidence may be in the form of the parties' own testimony, that of third parties, or that of experts. See id.
Some types of disturbing or shocking injuries, such as a threat to one's physical safety, or death or serious injury to a family member, have been found sufficient to support an inference that the injury was accompanied by mental anguish. See id.
There must also be evidence to justify the amount awarded. See Saenz v. Fidelity & Guar. Ins. Underwriters, 925 S.W.2d 607, 614 (Tex. 1996).
Although the impossibility of any exact valuation of mental anguish requires that juries be given a measure of discretion in finding damages, that discretion is limited. See id.
Juries cannot "simply pick a number and put it in the blank." Id.
They must find an amount that "would fairly and reasonably compensate" for the loss. Id.