The Second Department, ordering a new trial in this personal injury action which had resulted in a $5,500,000 verdict, determined the “burden of proof” jury instruction should not have been given in this damages-only trial:
… [T]he defendants contend … that the verdict and judgment must be set aside on the ground that they were deprived of a fair trial by the Supreme Court’s improper jury instruction on the law. Specifically, the defendants contend that the court erroneously charged the jury with respect to the burden of proof.
“A trial court is required to state the law relevant to the particular facts in issue, and a set of instructions that confuses or incompletely conveys the germane legal principles to be applied in a case requires a new trial”… .
Here, we agree with the defendants that under the facts of this case, the Supreme Court’s determination to charge Pattern Jury Instructions 1:60 was improper in the context of a trial limited to the issue of damages only and was prejudicial to the defendants in that it shifted the burden of proof. In light of the court’s error in the charge, substantial justice was not done since the jury was not instructed with the germane legal principles to be applied … . Gorokhova v Consolidated Edison of N.Y., Inc., 2020 NY Slip Op 04828, Second Dept 9-2-20