Troy COACHMAN, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. SEATTLE AUTO MANAGEMENT, INC., dba Mercedes Benz of Seattle; Al Monjazeb, Defendants-Appellants.
Decided: December 11, 2019
Before: GOULD and NGUYEN, Circuit Judges, and PRESNELL,* District Judge.
Jamal N. Whitehead, Attorney, Schroeter Goldmark & Bender, Seattle, WA, Beth Bloom, Bloom Law PLLC, Seattle, WA, Sidney Charlotte Tribe, Attorney, Carney Badley Spellman, P.S., Seattle, WA, for Plaintiff - Appellee Howard Mark Goodfriend, Attorney, Smith Goodfriend, PS, Seattle, WA, Catherine Smith, Attorney, Edwards Sieh Smith & Goodfriend, PS,. Seattle, WA, Sheryl J. Willert, Jeffery Mark Wells, Attorneys, Williams Kastner & Gibbs PLLC, Seattle, WA, for Defendants - Appellants
Seattle Auto Management, Inc. and Al Monjazeb appeal the district court’s denial of their Rule 59 Motion for remittitur or new trial. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We affirm.
The appellants first argue that the appellee’s closing argument violated the court’s in limine ruling with respect to the appellant’s financial condition. Because the appellants failed to object at trial to the alleged misconduct, reversal is improper unless there was “plain or fundamental” error. Settlegoode v. Portland Pub. Sch., 371 F.3d 503, 517 (9th Cir. 2004). “Plain error review requires: (1) an error; (2) that the error be plain or obvious; (3) that the error have been prejudicial or affect substantial rights; and (4) that review be necessary to prevent a miscarriage of justice.” Id. While making the closing argument at issue, counsel used Coachman’s value to the appellants as an analog for his personal loss. While that comparison may have been inapt, there is no indication that it was prejudicial or affected substantial rights. The district court did not commit plain or fundamental error in denying the motion for a new trial.
The appellants also argue that the ratio between the noneconomic and economic compensatory damages renders $4,697,248 in noneconomic damages excessive. However, Washington law does not limit compensatory damages based on the ratio between economic and noneconomic damages. Indeed, we will not disturb the jury’s verdict “unless it is outside the range of substantial evidence in the record, or shocks the conscience of the court, or appears to have been arrived at as the result of passion or prejudice.” Bunch v. King Cty. Dep’t of Youth Servs., 155 Wash.2d 165, 116 P.3d 381, 389 (2005) (quoting Bingaman v. Grays Harbor Cmty. Hosp., 103 Wash.2d 831, 699 P.2d 1230, 1233 (1985)). The appellants chose not to address damages during their closing argument, and there is support in the record for the size of the damages award; we find no persuasive reason to disturb the jury’s verdict.
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