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Ex parte Alexandra Grace Miller.

Court: Supreme Court of Alabama

Docket: 1190918

Opinion Date: April 2, 2021

Judge: Greg Shaw

Areas of Law: Civil Procedure, Personal Injury

Alexandra Miller, a defendant in this personal injury action, petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to direct the Madison Circuit Court to vacate its order purporting to grant plaintiff Ralph Mitchell’s post-judgment motion seeking a new trial. Miller and Mitchell were involved in a motor vehicle accident in May 2017. Mitchell sued Miller in the Madison Court, where the matter proceeded to a jury trial in January 2020. At the conclusion of the trial, the trial court granted Mitchell’s motion for a judgment as a matter of law on the issue of liability; the jury subsequently returned a verdict awarding Mitchell damages totaling $22,368, the exact amount of medical expenses that Mitchell alleged at trial. The trial court entered a judgment on the jury’s verdict on January 31, 2020. On February 10, 2020, Mitchell filed a timely post-judgment motion seeking a new trial on the ground that the jury’s verdict allegedly erroneously failed to also include an award for “physical pain and suffering.” The trial court scheduled Mitchell’s motion for a hearing to be held on March 17, 2020. On March 13, 2020, the Alabama Supreme Court, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, issued an “Administrative Order Suspending All In-Person Court Proceedings for the Next Thirty Days,” i.e., from March 16, 2020, through April 16, 2020. Additional orders further extended the deadline suspending in-person court proceedings. On June 11, 2020, Miller filed a response opposing Mitchell’s post-judgment motion. Subsequent to the scheduled hearing, on June 18, 2020, the trial court entered an order purporting to grant Mitchell’s post-judgment motion seeking a new trial. Miller moved to vacate Mitchell’s motion, arguing the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to grant it. The trial court did not rule on Miller’s motion but set it for a hearing on August 11, 2020, which was more than 42 days after the entry of the June 18, 2020, order purporting to grant Mitchell’s post-judgment motion. The Supreme Court concluded Miller demonstrated both that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to enter the order purporting to grant Mitchell’s post-judgment motion seeking a new trial, and a corresponding clear legal right to the requested relief.

This case law update is brought to you by Freeway Law, personal injury, and auto car accident lawyers. The following is not one of our cases, but it is of some significance, and we thought we should share it with our readers for informational purposes. The information above is for informational purposes only and not to be construed as legal advice.

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