In Tennessee the Remittitur of a Jury Verdict is a Reduction of the Amount of the Award by the Trial Judge

Posted on Aug 30 2015 2:18PM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

In Tennessee the trial judge has the ability to reduce a jury verdict award if the court is of the opinion the verdict should be reduced based on the evidence before the trial court.  Specifically, T.C.A. § 20-10-102(a) provides as follows:


(a) In all jury trials had in civil actions, after the verdict has been rendered and on motion for a new trial, when the trial judge is of the opinion that the verdict in favor of a party should be reduced and a remittitur is suggested by the trial judge on that account, with the proviso that in case the party in whose favor the verdict has been rendered refuses to make the remittitur, a new trial will be awarded, the party in whose favor such verdict has been rendered may make such remittitur under protest, and appeal from the action of the trial judge to the court of appeals.


If the party in whose favor the verdict has been rendered refuses to accept the remittitur then a new trial will be awarded.  In the alternative, the remittitur can be accepted under protest and an appeal can be immediately pursued to the Court of Appeals to review the actual remittitur.


T.C.A. § 20-10-102(b) provides that the Appellate Court reviews the remittitur and can either approve the remittitur or award the amount originally awarded by the jury.  T.C.A. § 20-10-102(b) provides as follows:


(b) The court of appeals shall review the action of the trial court suggesting a remittitur using the standard of review provided for in T.R.A.P. 13(d) applicable to decisions of the trial court sitting without a jury. If, in the opinion of the court of appeals, the verdict of the jury should not have been reduced, but the judgment of the trial court is correct in other respects, the case shall be reversed to that extent, and judgment shall be rendered in the court of appeals for the full amount originally awarded by the jury in the trial court.


As a result, in Tennessee, just because a jury awards a specific damages amount does not mean this award is the final amount of damages in a case.  From a defense perspective, if an excessive award is assessed by the jury, defense counsel should pursue a remittitur in most circumstances.  There really is no downside to pursuing this remedy in the State of Tennessee.


Follow me on Twitter at @jasonalee for updates from the Tennessee Defense Litigation blog.

TAGS: Jury Issues, Damages, Post Judgment Motions
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Jason A. Lee is a Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC. He practices in all areas of defense litigation inside and outside of Tennessee.

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Tennessee Defense Litigation Blog
Jason A. Lee, Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC
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E-mail: jlee@burrowlee.com