Legal Memorandum: Time Limit for Filing Post-trial Motions

Issue: What, if any, post-trial motions may be appropriate before filing an appeal to the Eighth Circuit?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Motion for a new trial; Amend the judgment; Party to a judgment
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 839 F.2d 407
Cited Statutes: Fed. R. Civ. P. 59; FRCP 59(b), (e); Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(4)(A)(iv)
Date: 05/01/2013

Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59, a party to a judgment may move either for a new trial or to alter or amend the judgment.  Each must be filed within 28 days of the date of the judgment.  FRCP 59(b), (e).  A motion for a new trial, however, is available only following a jury trial or a non-jury trial.  On the other hand, a Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend is available for any court judgment. 

Rule 59(e) provides only that, “A motion to alter or amend a judgment must be filed no later than 28 days after the entry of the judgment.”  The Advisory Committee Notes, however, emphasize that the addition of Rule 59(e) to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in 1946 was intended to “make[] clear that the district court possesses the power . . . to alter or amend a judgment after its entry.” 

A district court has broad discretion to grant a motion to alter or amend its judgment.  Hagerman v. Yukon Energy Corp., 839 F.2d 407 (8th Cir. 1988).  When making a motion, a party is not permitted to raise issues not originally presented to the court on summary judgment.  Id.  “Rule 59(e) motions are intended to ‘serve the limited function of correcting ‘manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.””  Hinton v. Astrue, No. 3:12-c-00100 (S.D. Iowa Jan. 23, 2012) (quoting U.S. v. Metro. St. Louis Sewer Dist., 440 F.3d 930, 933 (8th […]

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