Pain and Suffering Specific Number Not Required

Personal Injury Car Wreck Lawyer + Austin Texas

Mar 10, 2014 — by Jeff Mundy
Tags: Civil Procedure

*78Baylor next contends that the trial court erred by admitting evidence about physical pain or mental anguish in the past or the future. Baylor argues that Kidd's refusal to provide a meaningful answer in response to its interrogatory inquiring about this type of damage required the automatic exclusion of any evidence on these topics. Kidd had a duty to answer interrogatories and supplement them in a timely fashion or suffer the automatic exclusion of any such testimony. The interrogatory at issue reads as follows:


9. Are you making claim in this lawsuit for physical pain and mental anguish? If so, provide the following information:


a. State the total amount of money you are claiming for physical pain and/or mental anguish in the past, and state all factors relied upon by you in arriving at such amount.


b. State the amount of money you are claiming for physical pain and/or mental anguish in the future, and state all factors relied upon by you in arriving at such amount.


Answer: I will ask the jury to decide this.


This inquiry was to a matter more appropriately contained in pleadings. Kidd had requested damages for physical pain and mental anguish in his pleadings, and he was not required to have a personal opinion on that amount or to offer any testimony on a specific amount in order to obtain a verdict for damages for physical pain and mental anguish. Upon a proper exception being filed, he could have been required to plead with specificity the limits of his allegations. fn.3 If, however, the jury found an amount in excess of his pleadings, the trial court would have been bound to allow a postverdict amendment of his pleadings unless Baylor could show surprise or prejudice.


Kidd lumped all damages together in his petition and merely placed an upper limit upon his recovery of $500,000.


Kidd answered interrogatories detailing his alleged physical damage and specifying the treatment that one doctor expected would continue in the future. Baylor's interrogatory asked Kidd how much money he would seek for pain and mental anguish and the factors leading to those amounts. Although he declined to respond by informing Baylor of the total value that he claimed for pain and mental anguish, his answers to other interrogatories describe his physical injuries upon which the resultant pain and mental anguish claim would necessarily rely. In addition, during deposition, Kidd specified in detail the types of injury that he eventually relied upon at trial to show injury and its effect upon his life.


As suggested by counsel's reply to this interrogatory, the amount to be properly recovered for pain and mental anguish is a question uniquely in the purview of the jury, and such awards are made largely in its discretion.  There is no set formula for finding the value that should be awarded for enduring physical pain and mental anguish. Because personal injury damages are unliquidated and are not capable of measurement by any certain standard, the jury has broad discretion in fixing the amount of the award.It is elemental that a party must furnish such information as is available to the party in response to interrogatories. The requested answer is not an amount that must be specified by a plaintiff in his testimony.


Because the underlying injuries were detailed elsewhere in responses to discovery, the trial judge correctly admitted testimony about pain and mental anguish despite Kidd's failure to specify the dollar value of *79 his pain and anguish in response to Baylor's interrogatory. The point of error is overruled.


Baylor Plaza Medical Services v. Kidd


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