Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Special Belated 3d DCA Watch: Judge Ronald Dresnick Edition!

 
We imagine that when a sitting trial court judge announces his or her retirement from the bench and intention to return to practicing law, it is a stressful time filled with distractions, what with the job search and desire to land the most lucrative salary or partnership at a marquis firm.

Anyhoo, this decision reversing former Judge Ronald Dresnick initially escaped our eye on the recent 3d DCA watch.
In this plaintiff’s personal injury case, the jury, not once, but twice refused to award the plaintiff any significant damages for past or future pain and suffering. The trial judge added $245,000 more to the jury verdict for this purpose. For the reasons set forth below, we reinstate the verdict.
The reversal by Judges Shepherd, Salter and Logue seems a bit stingy, no? Isn't that why we have additur?
In this case, there is no basis on which to conclude, as a matter of law, that a jury of reasonable persons could not have reached a $5,000 award for pain and suffering on the evidence presented. The record in this case does not establish the jury was improperly influenced by prejudice, passion, or corruption.
So what exactly did Ron do here? (It made our eyes spin in their sockets.)
At the hearing on the motion, the trial judge expressed “shock” at the pain and suffering award and expressed his view that the jury must have been “coldblooded” to return such a low verdict. After some reflection, the trial court increased the pain and suffering award to Belony to a total amount of $250,000. The written order reflects that additur was granted because the pain and suffering award shocked the conscience of the court.
Oh, now I see: the 3d DCA likes it when trial judges follow the law and dislikes it when trial judges impose their arbitrary will over the will of a reasonable jury, or simply ignores the facts.

"Prejudice, passion or corruption:" great trilogy by Judge Shepherd.

Ronald Dresnick now practices law at Kluger, Kaplan.

4 comments:

  1. I was wondering when you would get to this one. $5000 for 3 months in a halo is appropriate? Methinks Judge Shepard would not be so deferential to the jury had it awarded say $10 million.

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  2. @ 9:47 am.... you are exactly right. The 10 mill award would likely be found to be clearly based on passion on prejudice, based on the record evidence.

    I don't think this is suggestive of a conservative appellate approach. I think Dresnick was a loose cannon. An emotional, wild card, unstable jurist and the quality of the bench is elevated without him.

    Dresnick was prostituting himself to the PI bar .

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  3. Be serious. $5000 for that injury is ridiculous and Dresnick was absolutely correct. Shepard gave away his conservative bent in the original opinion, which has now been corrected. Originally he referred to the injuries as "largely caused by himself," which of course has nothing to do with an analysis of damages. That part was removed in the corrected opinion.

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  4. @8:59 pm - I think you miss the point.

    It's about the Rule of Law. It's not about what you, or Ron, think "is ridiculous." A judge, even a hack like Dresnick prostituting the robe to the plaintiff's bar while engaged in a job search, must follow the law.

    PS - Amy/Kluger - stop posting anonymously.

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