Economic Damages Must be Based on Competent Substantial Evidence
Economic damages must be supported by substantial competent evidence. Stated differently, economic damages cannot be speculative and the amount of the damages must be quantifiable. Putting on speculative, unquantifiable damages at trial can be fatal to a claim because damages should be the most important part of a claim. If damages cannot be proven, there is no claim, so making sure damages can be supported with competent substantial evidence is beyond important.
The recent decision of Alvarez v. All Star Boxing, Inc., 43 Fla.L.Weekly D2102a (Fla. 3d DCA 2018) establishes what can happen if a party puts on speculative damages. This case involved the famous professional boxer Canelo Alvarez. He was sued by a former promoter and a jury found he was liable in unjust enrichment to the promoter to the tune of $8.5 Million. Unjust enrichment damages typically focus on the reasonable value of the labor or services performed or the reasonable value of such labor or services to the party that was unjustly enriched. Alvarez, supra. In this case, however, the promoter put on a forensic accountant to support damages associated with a percentage of Canelo Alvarez’s earnings during a certain period—a type of lost profits methodology. The appellate court avoided addressing the issue of whether lost profits can form unjust enrichment damages, and instead, focused on the fact that the methodology utilized by the promoter to calculate lost profits was wholly speculative. The methodology and damages did not rest on a reasonable basis but were grounded in a lot of guesswork. As a result, the $8.5 Million jury verdict could not stand. The appellate court remanded back to the trial court to reconsider a motion of remittitur–a motion to reduce the damages–to reduce the damages based on evidence at trial that supported the reasonable value of the promoter’s expenses and services and, if not, to enter judgment in favor of the defense.
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