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February 22, 2024

I’m getting really tired of seeing attorneys flaunting multi-million dollar verdicts for personal injury cases on their commercials. Why? Because many of these advertisements are made under false pretenses, as many multi-million dollar verdicts awarded by a jury get reduced with a little-talked-about legal mechanism called “remittitur motion.”



In the legal system, post-trial motions are critical in ensuring that justice is served. A post-trial motion is a motion filed after a trial has ended but before the court enters a final judgment. Under the New York State Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR) 4404, a party may file a post-trial motion for judgment as a matter of law or a new trial. In Personal Injury Practice, we will discuss the different aspects of a post-trial motion under CPLR 4404, with a focus on the remittitur motion.



Specifically, for any monetary judgment, especially in personal injury and medical malpractice cases, one way that damage awards can be reduced is through a process called remittitur, where a judge reduces the amount of damages awarded by a jury if they find it excessive or unsupported by the evidence presented at trial. In simple terms, if you have a client with minor injuries but the verdict award is astronomical, the defense has the option to file a remittitur motion to reduce the jury’s verdict amount. Appellate courts may also review the trial court’s decision on these motions.



A motion for judgment as a matter of law (JNOV), also known as a directed verdict, is a motion that can be filed after a jury trial. It asks the court to find in favor of the moving party, despite the jury’s verdict. To make this motion, the moving party must show that there was not enough evidence presented during the trial to support the jury’s verdict. The court will consider the evidence presented at trial in the light most favorable to the non-moving party when deciding whether to grant the motion.



On the other hand, a motion for a new trial can be made on the grounds that the verdict is against the weight of the evidence or in the interest of justice. This motion is usually made when the trial judge believes that the jury’s verdict was not supported by the evidence presented at trial or was in some way unfair. A motion for a new trial is a request to have the trial court retry the case.



When filing a post-trial motion, it is important to know that the motion must be made within a certain period of time. Under CPLR 4405, a motion for judgment as a matter of law must be made within 50 days after service of a copy of the judgment with notice of its entry. A motion for a new trial, on the other hand, must be made within 15 days after the verdict or decision.



Another important aspect of a post-trial motion is the appellate review of the order deciding the motion. If the trial court grants a post-trial motion, the non-moving party may appeal the decision. The appellate court will review the trial court’s decision de novo, which means it will consider the motion as if it were a new case. The appellate court will review the evidence presented at trial and will only reverse the trial court’s decision if it finds that the trial court’s decision was clearly erroneous.



Additur and remittitur are requests to correct damages awarded by the jury. Additur is a request by the plaintiff to increase the damages awarded by the jury, while remittitur is a request by the defendant to decrease the damages awarded. The judge can order additur or remittitur if they believe the jury’s award was excessive or insufficient. The court can grant these motions only if it finds that the damages awarded were either inadequate or excessive.



It is worth noting that while the use of remittitur motions can result in a reduction of damages awarded by a jury, this does not necessarily mean that the original verdict was reached under false pretenses. Rather, it is a mechanism designed to ensure that the damages awarded are appropriate and supported by the evidence presented at trial.



That being said, it is certainly possible for some attorneys to use multi-million dollar verdicts in their advertising in a misleading or deceptive way. It is important for consumers to do their own research and exercise caution when selecting a lawyer, particularly in cases involving personal injury or medical malpractice.



Overall, post-trial motions, including remittitur, are an important part of the legal system that help to ensure that justice is served. By allowing parties to challenge a jury’s verdict on the basis of the evidence presented at trial, these motions help to prevent excessive or insufficient damages awards.



In conclusion, a post-trial motion under CPLR 4404 is an essential part of the legal system. It provides parties with the opportunity to request a judgment as a matter of law or a new trial. It is important to remember that a post-trial motion must be filed within a certain period of time and that the appellate court will review the decision de novo. Additur and remittitur can also be requested to correct damages awarded by the jury. Therefore, understanding the different aspects of a post-trial motion is crucial in ensuring that justice is served in the American legal system.



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