Legal Memorandum: Conditional Grant of New Trial in CA

Issue: Under California law, does a trial court exceed its jurisdiction by ordering a party to accept a proposed reduction of damages before ruling on a new trial motion?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Conditionally grant a new trial; New trial motion; Remittitur
Jurisdiction: California
Cited Cases: 3 Cal. 3d 359; 38 Cal. 3d 8; 35 Cal. 3d 44; 82 Cal. App. 4th 200; 231 Cal. App. 3d 1593; 38 Cal. 3d 892; 3 Cal. 3d 35; 35 Cal. 3d 442; 32 Cal. 3d 388
Cited Statutes: Code Civ. Proc., § 662.5, subd. (b), §§ 657, 662.5, subd. (b)
Date: 09/01/2000

A trial court may conditionally grant a new trial on the ground of excessive damages by making the new trial order subject to denial "if the party in whose favor the verdict has been rendered consents to a reduction of so much thereof as the court in its independent judgment determines from the evidence to be fair and reasonable." See A s "Code Civ. Proc., § 662.5" c 1 l "Code Civ. Proc., § 662.5 (Westlaw 2000)"Code Civ. Proc., § 662.5, subd. (b).  If the plaintiff decides to accept the proposed reduction, the new trial order is denied.  This procedure is known as "remittitur."  This statutory procedure is the exclusive method by which a court may reduce the amount of damages which the jury has awarded, for the trial judge has no inherent authority to order a reduction in a jury award.  See A s "Teitel v. First Los Angeles Bank (1991) 231 Cal. A" c 2 l "Teitel v. First Los Angeles Bank (1991) 231 Cal. App. 3d 1593"Teitel v. First Los Angeles Bank (1991) 231 Cal. App. 3d 1593, 1604-05; A s "McFetters v. Amplicon, Inc. (2000) 82 Cal. App. 4t" c 2 l "McFetters v. Amplicon, Inc. (2000) 82 Cal. App. 4th 200"McFetters v. Amplicon, Inc. (2000) 82 Cal. App. 4th 200, 220-21.

The statutory requirement that use of remittitur be limited to those cases where there has been a jury error […]

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