Wry v. Dial

503 P.2d 979 (1972)

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Wry v. Dial

Arizona Court of Appeals
503 P.2d 979 (1972)

KL

Facts

Joe H. Dial and David L. Hudnall (plaintiffs) were involved in a car accident that caused their car to catch fire. Both men suffered severe burns. Dial, Hudnall, and their wives (plaintiffs) brought a personal-injury suit against Orlin and Constance Wry (defendants) to recover for their injuries. The evidence at trial showed that, before the accident, Dial was an electrical engineer and researcher for the University of Arizona. Dial was working to obtain his Ph.D. Dial was very active, and he regularly played sports and engaged in activities such as bicycling, hiking, and camping. Dial was physically attractive and sociable. Dial suffered severe burns to his face, throat, the inside of his mouth, neck, shoulders, and back. Dial underwent extremely painful debridement procedures, in which the dead skin on his body was removed, multiple times per day. Dial had several skin grafts which resulted in complications due to Dial’s tendency to develop thick, inflamed, keloidal scar tissue. Dial was expected to need many additional surgeries and to experience pain and suffering for the rest of his life. Dial was permanently and severely disfigured from the burns and skin grafts. Dial’s skin was delicate and susceptible to injury, infection, and cancer as a result of the burns and skin grafts. Dial also suffered a brain injury causing his personality, temperament, and intellect to suffer. Dial was afraid to appear in public due to his disfigurement and required psychiatric care. Hudnall also suffered severe burns and experienced extreme pain during debridement procedures in the hospital. Hudnall underwent several skin grafts, and his skin was similarly susceptible to injury, infection, and cancer. Hudnall was unable to play with his son or participate in backpacking activities as he used to. Hudnall was expected to need 10 more surgical operations over the course of his life. The jury awarded the Dials $3,500,000 and the Hudnalls $401,750. The Wrys filed a motion for a new trial or for remittitur, which the trial court denied. The Wrys appealed, arguing that the jury’s award was excessive, given that the pecuniary damages to Dial and Hudnall were $1,000,000 and $45,000, respectively.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Howard, J.)

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