Commercial Litigation and Arbitration

Rule 59 Motion for a New Trial — Criteria — Third Circuit

From Smith v. Ciritella, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36122 (D. Del. May 5, 2008):

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(a) provides that:

[a] new trial may be granted to all or any of the parties and on all or part of the issues (1) in an action in which there has been a trial by jury, for any of the reasons for which new trials have heretofore been granted in actions at law in the courts of the United States . . .

It is within the discretion of the district court whether or not to grant a new trial. Wagner v. Fair Acres Geriatric Ctr., 49 F.3d 1002, 1017 (3d Cir. 1995). Although Rule 59 does not detail the grounds on which a new trial may be granted, the following grounds have been recognized the by the Third Circuit: "the verdict is against the clear weight of the evidence; damages are excessive; the trial was unfair; and that substantial errors were made in the admission or rejection of evidence or the giving or refusal of instructions." Lightning Lube, Inc. v. Witco Corp., 802 F. Supp. 1180, 1186 (D.N.J. 1992), aff'd 4 F.3d 1153 (3d Cir. 1993). When reviewing a motion for a new trial, a court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the party for whom the verdict was returned. Wagner v. Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., 890 F.2d 652, 656 (3d Cir. 1989).

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