For the third time, Judge Floyd orders new trial for injury plaintiff

By David Yates | Nov 2, 2012

For the third time, a Beaumont judge who has a history of tossing out jury verdicts granted a personal injury plaintiff a new trial.

On Friday, Nov. 2, Judge Donald Floyd, Jefferson County 172nd District Court, granted plaintiff James Levine a new trial against United Scaffolding, signing off on his second amended order granting motion for new trial, court records say.

The Supreme Court of Texas nixed Judge Floyd’s previous orders for new trial.

Court records show that on Aug. 31, for the second time, the high court directed Judge Floyd to definitively state his reasons for disregarding the jury verdict and granting Levine 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.

Plaintiff’s counsel submitted the second amended order for Judge Floyd approval following a Friday morning hearing.

The three-page order states the jury’s answer was against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence.

Case background

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.

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

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