Ex parte Oliver

Decision Date08 July 1988
Citation532 So.2d 627
PartiesEx parte Gary OLIVER and Judith Oliver. (In re STATE v. Gary OLIVER and Judith Oliver). 86-1559.
CourtAlabama Supreme Court

C.B. Caine, Jr., Moulton, for petitioners.

Robert M. Baker of Jones, Hamby & Baker, Sheffield, for respondent.

SHORES, Justice.

We granted this petition for writ of certiorari in a case of first impression in order to review the Court of Civil Appeals' holding, 532 So.2d 625, that if a motion for new trial, based on multiple grounds, is granted, but the reason for granting the motion is not set out, then the reviewing court will assume that the ground was the weight and preponderance ground, if that ground was asserted, and will apply the Jawad standard of review, Jawad v. Granade, 497 So.2d 471, 477 (Ala.1986), to the trial court's decision, and if the weight and preponderance ground is unable to withstand the scrutiny of the Jawad standard, then the trial court's decision to grant a new trial must be reversed.

The facts of this case are adequately stated in the Court of Civil Appeals' opinion. That court held that the granting of a motion for new trial must be reviewed on appeal as if it were granted on the sole ground that the verdict was against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence. We do not agree that Jawad so holds.

"[W]hen the trial court grants a motion for new trial, without specifying the grounds therefor, the ruling must be sustained on appeal if any good ground is presented by the motion." Groom v. Reynolds, 396 So.2d 690 (Ala.1981). Jawad did not change this rule of review. If all of the specific grounds asserted in support of the motion for new trial fail to justify the trial court's decision to grant a new trial, then, and only then, does the reviewing court treat the motion for new trial as having been granted on the general ground that the verdict was against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence, if that ground was asserted. The standard announced in Jawad, supra, at 477, can be paraphrased as follows:

"An order granting a motion for new trial where the only viable ground is that the verdict is against the great weight or preponderance of the evidence will be reversed for abuse of discretion where on review it is easily perceivable from the record that the jury verdict is supported by the evidence."

The standard announced in Jawad has no application to appellate review of the propriety of a trial court's granting or not granting either a directed verdict or a JNOV. Whether the trial court erred in these two areas is tested by a purely objective determination of whether the party having the burden of proof has produced evidence requiring resolution by the jury. On the other hand, a motion for new trial on the ground that the verdict is against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence is examined for a determination of whether the verdict is palpably wrong or manifestly unjust. Burroughs Corp. v. Hall Affiliates, Inc., 423 So.2d 1348 (Ala.1982); Casey v. Jones, 410 So.2d 5 (Ala.1981).

Once it has been determined that there is evidence to present a factual issue to the jury, and that no ground, other than the weight and preponderance ground, supports the trial court's decision to grant a new trial, the reviewing court must then review all of the evidence in the record, and after reviewing it, if there is any evidence to support the jury's verdict, it must conclude that the verdict is not palpably wrong or manifestly unjust, and the trial court's granting of the motion for new trial must be reversed. This procedure is to be followed only in cases where the sole viable ground for granting the motion for new trial is that the jury's verdict is against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence.

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37 cases
  • State Dept. of Public Safety v. Sexton
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • June 12, 1998
    ...could differ. Rule 50(a), Ala. R. Civ. P.; Driver v. National Sec. Fire & Cas. Co., 658 So.2d 390, 392 (Ala.1995); Ex parte Oliver, 532 So.2d 627, 628 (Ala.1988). No presumption of correctness attaches to a ruling on a motion for a judgment as a matter of law. K.S. v. Carr, 618 So.2d 707, 7......
  • Fulton v. Callahan
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • April 16, 1993
    ...has produced substantial evidence to support its claim. Green Tree Acceptance, Inc. v. Standridge, 565 So.2d 38 (Ala.1990); Ex parte Oliver, 532 So.2d 627 (Ala.1988); see also Ala.Code 1975, § 12-21-12. In determining the propriety of a directed verdict or judgment notwithstanding the verdi......
  • Driver v. National Sec. Fire & Cas. Co.
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • March 3, 1995
    ...the burden of proof has produced [sufficient] evidence [to create a factual dispute] requiring resolution by the jury." Ex parte Oliver, 532 So.2d 627, 628 (Ala.1988). Because the trial court's ruling on a directed verdict motion is based on an objective standard, and, thus, is not discreti......
  • Macon County Com'n v. Sanders
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • January 5, 1990
    ...the verdict is whether the party with the burden of proof has produced sufficient evidence to require a jury determination. Ex parte Oliver, 532 So.2d 627 (Ala.1988). The defendants claim that the case should not have been submitted to a jury because 1) there was no evidence of wantonness; ......
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