Additur, remittitur, and acquiescence
“Cases? We don’t need no stinking cases.” Or do we?

Motion for new trial not a prerequisite to appeal

When trial results in an adverse final judgment, a party may move for new trial under La. Code Civ. P. arts. 1971 et seq. Often, the arguments raised in a motion for JNOV or new trial can be the same as those raised in an appeal. This raises two questions. The first is whether you must file a motion for new trial to preserve your right to appeal. The second is whether, if you do file such a motion, must you include every issue and argument that you will make on appeal if the motion fails.

Fortunately, the answer to both questions is “no.” You do not have to file a motion for new trial to preserve your right to appeal. A quotable quote to this effect comes from Grosch v. De Bautte, 203 So. 2d 906, 908 (La. App. 4 Cir. 1967):  “With respect to the contention that appellants should have applied for a new trial after the rendition of judgment, all we can say is that we know of no law which makes it necessary as a prerequisite to appealing that the aggrieved litigant apply for a new trial.”

And if you do file a motion for new trial, you don’t have to include every issue that you might raise on appeal. The court of appeal put it well in Luttrell v. International Paper Co., 511 So. 2d 7, 7–8 (La. App. 3 Cir. 1987):

Mover argues that since International did not seek a new trial as to the issue presented in its third party demand, but only sought a new trial on the statutory employer-employee issue, International has limited itself to appealing only as to that issue. We disagree ....

.... Our Code of Civil Procedure does not require the aggrieved party to file an application for new trial before appealing nor is there any authority in our law supporting the proposition that one must raise all issues in a motion for a new trial in order to preserve those issues for review in a subsequently filed appeal.

A more recent application of this rule appears in Hicks v. Steve R. Reich, Inc., 873 So. 2d 849, 851 (La. App. 2 Cir. 2004)

[T]here is no requirement in the law that a party must raise an issue pursuant to a motion for new trial or else waive the issue for purposes of appeal. A party may elect to seek relief from the trial court through a motion for new trial if the party concludes that the trial court may be willing to grant such relief for the reasons given in support of the motion. However, a party instead may elect to proceed directly to the appeal.

Comments

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Louis C LaCour Jr

Well explained. But take care under the federal rules, especially where the point of contention is the damage award. In that instance, a MNT is in fact required. It appears to be an extended application of the "no sandbagging" rule in that the district court ought to be allowed an opportunity to pass on the appropriateness of a jury's award. Curiously enough, Louisiana procedure is otherwise, as Ray so nicely explains.

Ray Ward

Right you are, Louis. This post, and the others on preservation of error, are strictly about Louisiana appellate procedure, not federal appellate procedure. The more relaxed Louisiana procedure probably has something to do with the Louisiana appellate courts’ jurisdiction over both facts and law.

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