Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas
Appeal from the County Court at Law No. 5 Dallas County,
Texas Trial Court Cause No. CC-13-05902-E.
Justices Lang, Fillmore, and Schenck
J. SCHENCK JUSTICE
Luisa Gutierrez appeals the trial court's judgment in her
favor, urging that it awarded inadequate compensatory
damages. She argues the evidence is factually insufficient to
support the amount of medical expenses awarded her and the
zero-damages award of past physical pain and mental anguish.
& Procedural Background
January 19, 2013, Gutierrez drove a car involved in a
multi-vehicle accident. She later filed suit against two
other drivers, Luz Cordero Shepherd and Candace Renee
Hadsell, for negligence. Before trial, Gutierrez and Shepherd
reached a settlement and filed a motion requesting the trial
court dismiss with prejudice Gutierrez's claim against
Shepherd, which the trial court granted. At trial, Gutierrez
argued Shepherd's, Gutierrez's, and Julius Dean
Rivers's vehicles were all stopped one after the other in
a single lane waiting for a truck in front of them to make a
left turn when Hadsell collided with Shepherd's car,
forcing Shepherd's car into Gutierrez's car, and
forcing Gutierrez's car into Rivers's truck ahead of
trial on the merits, the jury returned a verdict finding
Shepherd fifty percent negligent, Gutierrez thirty-five
percent negligent, and Hadsell fifteen percent negligent. The
jury awarded Gutierrez $3, 833.24 in damages for medical
expenses, but awarded her nothing for past physical pain and
mental anguish, future pain and mental anguish, past physical
impairment, and loss of earning capacity.
moved for a new trial, arguing among other things that the
jury's award for medical expenses was not supported by
factually sufficient evidence, the jury improperly reduced
the medical expenses award by the negligence of both
Gutierrez and Shepherd, and the jury's zero damages award
for past physical pain and mental anguish was not supported
by factually sufficient evidence. Hadsell responded to
Gutierrez's motion for new trial, arguing it should be
denied, and in the alternative requested a judgment
notwithstanding the verdict awarding Gutierrez the full
amount of medical expenses she sought at trial. The trial
court denied Gutierrez's motion for new trial and entered
a judgment notwithstanding the jury's verdict that
ordered Hadsell to pay Gutierrez double the amount of medical
expenses found by the jury and all costs of court. The final
judgment also found Shepherd fifty percent negligent,
Gutierrez thirty-five percent negligent, and Hadsell fifteen
percent negligent. Gutierrez then filed this appeal.
Standard of Review
reviewing a factual-sufficiency challenge to an adverse
finding on which the party had the burden of proof, we
determine whether the adverse finding is against the great
weight and preponderance of the evidence. Dow Chem. Co.
v. Francis, 46 S.W.3d 237, 242 (Tex. 2001) (per curiam).
We consider all the evidence in the record pertinent to that
finding and will set aside the judgment only if it so
contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence that it
is clearly wrong and unjust. Id.
Sufficiency of Evidence to Support Award of Medical Expenses
first issue, Gutierrez argues the jury's award of $3,
833.24 for past medical expenses was against the great weight
and preponderance of the evidence. She contends she presented
evidence that she had incurred $25, 554.96. She urges that
"the jury improperly reduced her medical expenses by
eighty-five percent" based on the finding that Hadsell
was fifteen percent negligent.
section 33.013 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code,
Hadsell would be liable to Gutierrez "only for the
percentage of damages found by the trier of fact equal to
[her] percentage of responsibility." Tex. Civ. Prac.
& Rem. Code Ann. § 33.013(a) (West 2016). Gutierrez
does not dispute the jury's liability finding that
Hadsell was only fifteen percent negligent. Thus, had the
jury awarded Gutierrez the full amount of medical expenses
she alleges she established, $25, ...