When a Pattern Jury Instruction Contrary to New York Law Arrogates the Law

In 2012, the New York Pattern Jury Instructions suddenly – and inexplicably – created an extra, independently-compensable component of non-pecuniary damages in wrongful death cases in NY. While pre-impact terror (fear of impending death) was historically treated as an element of pain and suffering, it was now set out in the PJI as a separate component entitled to a separate line item and separate damages award, thus enlarging recovery.

As our research and article published in the NYLJ demonstrates, the change in the PJI was not based on any change in the decisional law and is directly contrary to existing Court of Appeals precedent. 

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