Appellate lawyer Kyle Lawrence successfully defended a $3.3 million judgment in favor of an injured plaintiff in an appeal to Houston's First Court of Appeals. The decision provides important guidance about jury charge practice in personal-injury cases.
After being struck by an 18-wheeler attempting to reverse through a gate at a construction site, plaintiff Thomas Myers sued the company that employed the truck driver and a construction company whose employees were acting as "flagmen" to assist the truck as it reversed. A jury found both defendants negligent and awarded Myers damages. On appeal, the construction company argued that the evidence was insufficient to support the negligence finding and damages awards.
The First Court of Appeals sided with Myers. The Court rejected the company's argument that the jury charge erroneously submitted a question about ordinary negligence instead of premises liability and held that sufficient evidence supported the damages, including the jury's award of $2 million for future physical impairment. Notably, the charge did not define "physical impairment" or ask the jury to award a separate amount for disfigurement. The court explained that, because disfigurement falls within the common understanding of physical impairment, the jury could have considered evidence of disfigurement in awarding damages for physical impairment.
Kyle Lawrence collaborated with trial counsel Tim Culberson and Daniel Hernandez. The case is styled Primoris Energy Services Corp. v. Myers. A copy of the opinion may be found here.