Kathleen O’Gee (plaintiff) was a flight attendant for United Airlines. While working on a flight in April 1972, she injured her back while latching a cold buffet back into its appropriate location in the plane’s cabin. Dobbs Houses, Inc. (defendant) put the buffet on the plane and failed to latch it in its appropriate place. Over the course of the next year, O’Gee suffered from significant back pain. She spent much of the time bedridden and was unable to work. After consulting with several doctors, she received surgery on her back. Following the surgery, United Airlines reassigned her to work on smaller aircraft. She performed with distinction in this new role and was cited for her perfect attendance records in 1975 and 1976. O’Gee sued Dobbs Houses in federal district court, claiming negligence in failing to secure the buffet. After a seven-day trial, the jury returned a verdict in O’Gee’s favor, awarding her $170,000 in damages. Dobbs Houses challenged the damages award. The motion was denied by the trial judge, who noted that any verdict of $200,000 or less would be sustained. Dobbs Houses appealed.