The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined granting the motion to set aside the verdict in this personal injury trial violated the binding summary jury trial stipulation which was entered into pursuant to Richmond County Summary Jury Trial Rules:
The plaintiff commenced this action to recover damages for personal injuries she allegedly sustained in an automobile accident. The parties subsequently entered into a stipulation to submit this matter to a binding summary jury trial pursuant to the Richmond County Summary Jury Trial Rules.
In its verdict sheet, the jury found that the [defendant’s] … negligence was not a substantial factor in causing the accident, but went on to assess her percentage of fault at 49%. The jury did not determine whether the plaintiff had sustained a serious injury and did not award any damages. Upon receiving the jury’s verdict sheet, the Supreme Court informed the jury that “there was no need to go on past” the finding that [defendant’s] negligence was not a substantial factor in causing the accident, and after ascertaining that all six jurors had signed the form, the trial court dismissed the jurors and announced that “[t]his constitutes a defense verdict.”
Four days later, the plaintiff moved, in effect, to set aside the verdict on the ground that it was internally inconsistent, and the Supreme Court granted the motion.
As the defendants contend, the Supreme Court “exceeded the boundaries of the parties’ agreement by setting aside the verdict” … . Conio v Talarico, 2020 NY Slip Op 05720, Second Dept 10-14-20