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Arizona's Top 10 Civil Verdicts in 2020

An overview of the top civil verdicts from Arizona in 2020

Every year we bring you news of the top ten Civil verdicts in the State of Arizona.  Twenty Twenty will go down as a very odd year as most of the State Court Houses were closed to trials for a majority of the year due to the COVID crisis.  For the first time in many years, 30% of the verdicts rendered were rendered by judges, not juries.  This was because of social distancing mandates and parties needing a resolution, so by agreement tried the case to a judge, not a jury.

The court houses are opening up and Civil Trials are resuming.  However, Civil Trials take a back seat to just about every other type of case.  Criminal always comes first, followed by Juvenile, Family Law, Probate, then Civil.  While trial dates are being assigned again, there is no guarantee that the trial will start as scheduled.  Here is the run down on the 2020 Top Ten:

1: $4,500,000.00.  This was a “bad faith case” against an insurance company for not approving a recommended back surgery to an injured person.  Because of the delay, the condition worsened, and the person became permanently disabled.  The jury awarded $300,000 for future medical expenses and $4.2 million for pain and suffering.

2:  $1,693,273.24:   Yes, this one came right down to the penny.  Even the IRS rounds up or down!  This was a bench trial involving a woman who became paralyzed while at a rehabilitation center after back surgery.  Punitive damages were requested and not awarded.

3: $1,670,320.00.  This was a contract dispute among cannabis (marijuana) growers.  The claim was unlawful interference with contract relations that caused the plaintiff to lose money. The jury awarded the plaintiff $1,670,320 and awarded the defendant nothing on his counterclaim against the plaintiff.

4:  $1,125,000.  This is a Mustang vs. Work Truck hauling a forklift.  The driver of the Mustang was seriously hurt, and the Work Truck was towing a load in excess of its capacity.  Jury verdict to driver of the Mustang and against the construction company that owned the work truck.

5.  $734,983.38.  Right down to the penny again.  This was a products case of a boom operator against the boom manufacturer.  The boom operator claimed the boom was negligently designed causing it to tip over and be damaged and causing damage to surrounding property as well and loss of use while the boom was being repaired.  After finding the plaintiff to be partially at fault, the final verdict was $734,983.38.

6.  $414,600.00.  This was a condemnation action brought by the State of Arizona to acquire a parcel of land needed for improvements to Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway.  The jury found fair compensation for the parcel to be $414,600.00.

7.  $250,000.00. Dog bite case brought by a tenant against the landlord and another tenant.  Jury awarded $250,000 to the person who suffered the bite injury.

8.  $220,000.00. Car accident involving a rotator cuff tear.  Verdict reduced by 10% fault attributed to the Plaintiff/claimant.

9.  $191,599.62.  Another one right down to the penny.  This was a bench trial, and the judge had a sharp pencil.  This was a contract dispute over not training horses as agreed, and alleged defaulting on a $57,000 loan.  Defendant filed a counterclaim alleging she had not been paid for the training done, and that payments on the loan were current.  The judge awarded the plaintiff nothing but awarded the defendant $191,599.62 on her counter claim.

10.  $152,355.00.  Car vs. City of Tempe garbage truck.  Car driver injured.  Garbage truck driver denied negligence.  Jury awarded the injured car driver $152,355.00.

In 2020, 55% of verdicts were for the plaintiff and 45% were for the defendant.  Seventy one percent of the bench trial occurred after the court closings of March 2020.  There were no punitive awards in 2020.  There were no plaintiff malpractice verdicts reported in 2020.

Keep in mind this is Statewide reporting, not just Pima County.  We will continue to report the top ten verdicts annually.

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