Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Yuriam Merced Rivera and Anna White were involved in a car wreck. White sued Rivera. Rivera answered pro se but did not respond to requests for discovery. By court order, the unanswered requests for admissions, which involved the issues of negligence and proximate cause, were deemed admitted. White filed a motion for summary judgment, supported by affidavit. Rivera did not file a response. The court signed a summary judgment in favor of White on Aug. 31, 2006. Rivera filed a motion for new trial Oct. 2, 2006, and a notice of appeal Dec. 15, 2006. HOLDING:Affirmed in part, reversed and remanded in part. The court first found that it had jurisdiction over the appeal, because Rivera’s motion for new trial and notice of appeal were timely filed, the latter on grounds that the mailbox rule had the effect of making a last-minute filing timely. Next, Rivera argued that the trial court improperly rendered summary judgment against her, because all of the damage awards for the value of the destroyed vehicle, past medical expenses, future medical expenses, mental anguish, and pain and suffering were neither liquidated nor admitted, and thus necessarily required evidentiary proof before a fact-finder. Thus, Rivera generally argued that such damages may not be awarded in a summary judgment. Definable and measurable damages, the court stated, such as past medical bills and the value of damaged property, may be recovered in a summary judgment proceeding, so long as they are adequately and factually proven. The underpinning of this concept, the court stated, is the concern of summary proceedings: that the issue at bar can be proven as a matter of law or that there is no genuine issue of material fact remaining to be decided. The process of awarding damages for amorphous, discretionary injuries such as mental anguish or pain and suffering is inherently difficult, because the alleged injury is a subjective and unliquidated nonpecuniary loss. Because there are no objective guidelines to assess the monetary equivalent to such injuries, the court stated that juries are given a great deal of discretion “in awarding an amount of damages it determines appropriate” in cases where such damages are requested. In this case, the court noted that White did not testify about the severity or duration of her pain and suffering. She stated in a conclusory fashion she believed that her pain and suffering was worth a specific dollar amount but nothing else. As to mental anguish, White’s affidavit stated that her van was her only transportation for her invalid mother and that she believed her mental anguish damages were in the amount of $25,000. The court concluded that awards for pain and suffering, mental anguish and future medical expenses are inappropriate for summary judgments, because they are unliquidated damages that cannot be proven with the necessary degree of certainty for a summary disposition. Rivera also argued that White’s affidavit was insufficient to provide proof of any of the types of damages, because it contained hearsay, conclusory statements instead of facts, and contained expert opinions that she was not qualified to give and were not shown to be based on personal knowledge. Conclusory statements in affidavits, the court stated, are not proper as summary judgment proof if there are no facts to support the conclusions. The court found enough underlying facts to support a summary judgment award for property damage and past medical care. But it found insufficient facts to support an award of $2,500 for lost income and attorneys’ fees. OPINION:Carter, J.; Morriss, C.J., and Carter and Moseley, JJ.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.