In a recent case, a woman bought a mountain bike from Target that she claimed had been previously returned. After riding the bike for just a few minutes, she fell off the bike at the bottom of a hill, injuring her shoulder. A bystander came over and showed her that the rear brakes had tightened on the back tire, releasing the brakes and causing her to fall. The woman claimed that a brake had been defective and had been repaired before it was resold to her. She claimed that she then returned the bike and left it at Target. Target claimed that it did not have the bike, and it had not been located. The bike was never located.
The woman sued Target for selling her a bike with defective brakes. The case proceeded to trial, and the jury found in favor of Target. On appeal, the woman argued that the jury’s decision was “against the weight of the evidence.” She claimed that no reasonable jury could have reached that decision and that a new trial was warranted.
The court explained that while there was evidence that supported the woman’s version of events, there was also evidence supporting Target’s version of events. For example, she testified that she had bought the bike used and that an employee told her that it had been sent back due to a malfunctioning brake. On the other hand, Target’s employee testified that he took the bike from an area containing bikes for sale, rather than from those kept for repair. The woman also said that the bike had cardboard and plastic on it, which an employee testified are only kept on brand new bikes. Thus, while the jury could reasonably have found in favor of the woman, the jury could also reasonably have found in favor of Target. For these reasons, the verdict remained in place.
Virginia Jury Trial Law
The jury’s function is to determine the verdict by judging the credibility of witnesses and weighing the evidence. Just because another conclusion could have been reached based on the evidence does not make the jury’s verdict wrong. The jury is able to observe witnesses’ demeanors, consider their biases, and determine which witnesses are more credible.
On appeal, it is difficult to set aside a trial court judgment based on a jury’s incorrect conclusion. Under Virginia law, in civil and criminal cases tried by a jury, individuals can challenge the decision based on the decision being contrary to the evidence. However, it is a difficult standard to overcome because the judgment must have been “plainly wrong” or without evidence to support it. Of course, judgments can be set aside without sufficient evidence to support the conclusion. That is why it is essential to have a skilled attorney in your corner fighting for you in the courtroom.
Contact a Virginia Product Liability Attorney
Charles B. Roberts is a dedicated product liability attorney with over 30 years of experience in personal injury cases. He handles all of his personal injury cases on a contingency-fee basis. This means that we will advance the costs of pursuing your case, and we will not charge you a fee unless we recover compensation for you. To learn more, call us at 703-491-7070 to set up a free consultation.
See More Blog Posts:
Manufacturer Escapes Liability in Product Liability Lawsuit Based on “Optional Equipment Doctrine”, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, August 18, 2016.
Battery Claims Based on Lack of Informed Consent May Be Subject to Procedural Requirements of Medical Malpractice Claims, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, September 6, 2016.