United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Frankfort
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
Gregory F. Tatenhove United States District Judge
Kenneth Harris seeks damages in excess of three million
dollars against Defendant Jiangsu ASG, the Chinese entity
responsible for manufacturing a centrifuge which permanently
injured Harris's right hand. Harris filed for default
judgment against Jiangsu ASG, and the Court ordered Harris to
provide affidavits and other supporting documentation to
assist its determination of the appropriate damages to award.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 55(b)(2). Having considered the
record and for the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS
Harris's motion for default judgment and awards damages
to Harris in the amount of $2, 890, 066.57.
2012, Plaintiff Kenneth Harris sustained an unfortunate
work-related injury which ultimately resulted in the
amputation of his right hand. Harris was operating a plastic
recycling system which included a centrifuge, and
Harris's hand became caught in the centrifuge. His hand
sustained permanent damage and later had to be amputated.
Harris subsequently sued the designer and manufacturer of the
centrifuge, Jiangsu ASG Earth Environment Protection Science
and Technology Co., Ltd., as well as two companies
responsible for importing and/or transporting the centrifuge,
JAS Forwarding (USA), Inc., and China Container Line, Ltd.
Over the course of the last several years, Harris has
resolved his claims against JAS and China Container Line.
[See R. 60; R. 68.] Harris's claims against
Jiangsu ASG remain outstanding.
ASG, a Chinese entity, failed to respond to Harris's
complaint or otherwise make an appearance in this action.
After the Court directed Harris to provide information
ensuring Jiangsu ASG had been properly served pursuant to the
Hague Convention, default was entered against Jiangsu ASG and
Harris moved for default judgment. Harris also requested a
hearing consistent with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
55(b)(2)(B), which allows the Court to conduct hearings or
make referrals “when, to enter or effectuate judgment,
it needs to . . . determine the amount of damages” at
issue. The Court held a telephonic status conference with
counsel to discuss the possibility of proceeding by way of
affidavit, as the only witness at an evidentiary hearing
would be Mr. Harris and the only exhibits his medical
records. [See R. 74; R. 77.] Counsel agreed, and Mr.
Harris then filed in the record various documents including a
memorandum in support of his motion for default judgment,
which requests the following damages: (1) past and present
medical expenses of $127, 066.57; (2) future medical expenses
of $250, 000.00; (3) loss of future wages in an amount
between $553, 500.00 and $1, 025, 000.00; and (4) past,
present, and future pain and suffering in the amount of $2,
000, 000.00. [See R. 80 at 3.]
support of the requested damage amounts, Harris presented the
judgment from his workers' compensation action; an
affidavit memorializing Harris's testimony about his
injury; and two photographs. [R. 78-1; R. 80-1; R. 80-2.]
Collectively, these supporting documents provide the
following factual information for the Court's
consideration. The documents indicate that Harris's
medical expenses paid through November 7, 2013, amounted to
$127, 066.57. [R. 80-1 at 2.] Harris's future medical
expenses are anticipated to be at least $250, 000.00. [R.
78-1 at 2; see also R. 80-1 at 3.] Harris was
earning $492.38 per week as a general laborer at the time of
the injury. [R. 78-1 at 2.] A physician has determined Harris
has a fifty-four percent “impairment rating” in
light of his injury, which plaintiff's counsel has
indicated affects Harris's future earning capacity. [R.
80-1 at 2; R. 80 at 5.] Harris was twenty-four at the time of
his injury and twenty-nine as of the time he filed his
memorandum in support of default judgment. [R. 78-1 at 2.]
Two photos of Harris demonstrate that he has, indeed,
suffered the total amputation of his right hand. [R. 80-2.]
And Harris has testified in his affidavit that he believes
his past, present, and future pain and suffering
“warrants at least $2, 000, 000.00 in compensatory
damages.” [R. 78-1 at 2.]
Harris's affidavit and memorandum both indicate his life
expectancy is seventy-eight years, according to the Social
Security Administration. [Id.; R. 80 at 2.] However,
the Court's independent research of Harris's life
expectancy, using the date of birth supplied on the
worker's compensation judgment, resulted in a total life
expectancy of eighty-two years. See Life Expectancy
Calculator, Social Security Online,
accessed June 29, 2017).
Court is tasked with calculating the amount of damages to
award Mr. Harris in this default judgment action, which
arises under Kentucky law and is before the Court on
diversity jurisdiction. The Sixth Circuit has summarized the
relevant law as follows:
In Kentucky, one injured by another's negligence is
entitled to recover full compensation for all damages
proximately resulting from that negligence. The amount of
damages for personal injuries in a particular case must be
determined by the character and extent of the injuries and
the consequences thereof. Properly included when computing
the amount are damages to property, pain and suffering, and
medical expenses incurred or reasonably certain thereafter to
be incurred as the direct and proximate result of injuries
received. Damages further include loss of earnings and
compensation for future impairment of earning power.
Duty v. U.S. Dep't of Interior, 735 F.2d 1012,
1014 (6th Cir. 1984) (internal citations omitted). The
permanency of an injury is also a key consideration for the
Court in determining an appropriate award of damages.
Id.; Tichenor v. Roll, 253 S.W.2d 13, 14
concerning the amount of damages to award are questions of
fact. Duty, 735 F.2d at 1014-15; see also Eves
v. Am. Clearinghouse, Inc., 316 F. App'x 393, 396
(6th Cir. 2008). Before awarding damages, the Court should
make findings of fact and subsequent conclusions of law as to
each amount of damages awarded pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 52. Duty, 735 F.2d at 1014-15. Put
another way, the Court should “enumerate the amount of
its awards attributable to damage to property, past and
future pain and suffering, medical expenses incurred or
reasonably certain thereafter to be incurred as the direct
and proximate result of injuries received in the accident,
and loss of earnings, including future impairment of earning
power.” Id. at 1015.
has not requested any damages for loss of property, but he
has requested $127, 066.57 in past medical expenses. [R. 80
at 4.] Based on the information contained in the workers'
compensation judgment [R. 80-1], the Court finds that amount
does accurately reflect Harris's past medical bills, and
the Court awards that amount to Harris. See Ky. Cent.
Ins. Co. v. Schneider, 15 S.W.3d 373, 374 (Ky. 2000)
(authorizing damages for “the expense of cure” in
comparable tort actions). As for future medical expenses,
Harris has testified via his affidavit that he expects to
incur at least $250, 000.00 in future medical expenses [R.
78-1 at 2], and the workers' compensation judgment also
references $250, 000.00 in future medical expenses.
[See R. 80-1 at 3.] Based on the present record, the
Court finds that $250, 000.00 is, indeed, an adequate
estimation of Harris's ...