Legal Memorandum: Granting a New Trial in CA

Issue: Under California law, when should the court grant a new trial on the grounds of excessive damages?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: A new trial; Grounds of excessive damages
Jurisdiction: California
Cited Cases: 53 Cal. App. 4th 825; 13 Cal. 3d 413; 53 Cal. App. 4th 82; 3 Cal. 3d 35; 32 Cal. 3d 388
Cited Statutes: Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 657
Date: 09/01/2000

 A new trial shall not be granted on the grounds of excessive damages "unless after weighing the evidence, the court is convinced from the entire record, including reasonable inferences therefrom, that the jury clearly should have reached a different verdict or decision."  Cal. Code Civ. Proc.    A s "§ 657 " c 0§ 657 (emphasis added).  It is well-settled that a new trial order must state the grounds and reasoning upon which it is based.  See § 657; A s "Scala v. Jerry Witt & Sons, Inc. (1970) 3 Cal. 3d 35" c 0Scala, 3 Cal. 3d at 363.  This requirement serves the dual purposes of encouraging careful deliberation by the trial court before ruling on a motion for new trial, and of making a record sufficiently precise to permit meaningful appellate review.  See Scala, 3 Cal. 3d at 363.

An order granting a new trial that is only conclusionary and fails to state the reasons upon which it is based is defective and void, for the requirement that there be a written specification of reasons is jurisdictional.  See A s "La Manna v. Stewart (1975) 13 Cal. 3d 413, 422" c 0La Manna, 13 Cal. 3d 413, 422.  Moreover, it has long been settled that an order that merely recites "insufficiency of the evidence" or "excessive damages" does not comply with the requirements of § 657.  See A s "Hasson v. Ford Motor Co. (1982) 32 Cal. 3d 388, " c […]

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