New Jersey juries can baffle many practitioners which is why more attorneys are using high/low agreements. A recent case from Essex County, New Jersey illustrates the point.
In a case of stipulated liability, Defendant failed to stop at an intersection and caused an accident. The Plaintiff who was in her early 50’s claims that as a result of the accident, she suffered two cervical herniations and two lumbar herniations. Plaintiff had one lumbar injection and there was no wage loss claim. Defendant maintained that Plaintiff’s herniations were age related and were caused by degenerative disc disease. At trial, Plaintiff’s counsel utilized the time unit rule and argued that the jury should consider pain and suffering in terms of numerous hours remaining in Plaintiff’s life expectancy.
The parties entered into a $1,500/$90,000 high/low agreement. The jury, after hearing all testimony, awarded Plaintiff $800,000. The case subsequently settled for $90,000 in accordance with the high/low agreement.
While a high/low agreement may not be right for every case, it is a tool to consider to avoid overzealous jury awards. It also a strategy that can be used to defeat a time unit rule presentation at trial.