All individuals have the constitutional right to have a jury hear their claims. This means that a jury, in addition to a judge, will listen to the facts of the case and determine whether the defendant should be found liable for his or her actions, and what amount of damages, if any, should be awarded. Even in a jury trial, however, the judge plays an important role as a “13th juror” who reviews the outcome of the case and determines whether serious errors have occurred or if the jury’s findings are inconsistent with the evidence presented in the case. In this way, the judge makes sure that the jury has not completely misunderstood the facts presented to them, or reached a biased conclusion.
Where a judge believes that a jury has ruled correctly, but has failed to accurate account for the plaintiff’s damages, in light of the evidence presented, the judge has the option of additur or remittitur. Additur is the process of adding to the jury’s verdict to create an award that better reflects the facts presented in the case, while remittitur allows the judge to reduce the award for the same reason. A recent case before the Tennessee Court of Appeals looked at when additur is and is not appropriate in a jury trial.