On Friday, a Beaumont judge, who has a history of tossing out jury verdicts, will decide once again if a personal injury plaintiff deserves a new trial.
On Aug. 31, for the second time in the same case, Texas’ highest court directed Judge Donald Floyd, Jefferson County 172nd District Court, to definitively state his reasons for disregarding a jury verdict and granting a plaintiff a new trial.
As previously reported, the Supreme Court of Texas granted, in part, United Scaffolding’s petition for writ of mandamus, which argued Judge Floyd’s amended order for granting a new trial was still too vague.
In December 2008, a Jefferson County jury found that plaintiff James Levine was 49 percent responsible for stepping through a hole in a scaffold and falling several feet, but still awarded the man $178,000 in future medical expenses for his injuries.
Court records show that a hearing on a motion for new trial has been slated for Friday, Nov. 2.
However, no motion for new trial is on file as of Oct. 29. The only filings on file on the matter are the notice of hearing and a new proposed order granting the motion.
Following the trial, Levine was awarded no damages for his alleged past and future mental anguish, impairment or pain. Nor did the jury award any damages to his wife, Lisa, who sought money for loss of consortium, court records show.
At the plaintiffs’ request, Floyd granted the Levines a new trial, stating that it was “in the interests of justice and fairness.”
The order was appealed all the way to the Texas Supreme Court, where justices held in their opinion that granting a new trial “in the interests of justice and fairness” is not a “sufficiently specific reason,” and a “relator challenging such an order does not have an adequate remedy by appeal,” court papers say.
Beaumont attorney Chris Portner of Portner Bond represents the plaintiffs.
Trial case No. E177-607
Supreme Court case No. 10-0526