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RULE 59. NEW TRIALS AND ALTERATION OR AMENDMENT OF JUDGMENTS

July 25, 2011

RULE 59.01: MOTIONS INCLUDED.

Motions to which this rule is applicable are: (1) under Rule 50.02 for judgment in accordance with a motion for a directed verdict; (2) under Rule 52.02 to amend or make additional findings of fact, whether or not an alteration of the judgment would be required if the motion is granted; (3) under Rule 59.07 for a new trial; or (4) under Rule 59.04 to alter or amend the judgment. These motions are the only motions contemplated in these rules for extending the time for taking steps in the regular appellate process. Motions to reconsider any of these motions are not authorized and will not operate to extend the time for appellate proceedings. [As amended by order entered January 31, 1984, effective August 20, 1984, by order entered January 23, 1986, effective August 1, 1986, by order entered January 28, 1993, effective July 1, 1993, by order enter December 14, 2009, effective July 1, 2010.]

RULE 59.02: TIME FOR MOTIONS.

A motion for new trial and all other motions permitted under this rule shall be filed and served within thirty (30) days after judgment has been entered in accordance with Rule 58. [As amended by order entered January 31, 1984, effective August 20, 1984, and by order entered January 23, 1986, effective August 1, 1986.]

RULE 59.03: TIME FOR SERVING AFFIDAVITS.

Where a motion for a new trial is based upon affidavits, they shall be filed and served with the motion unless otherwise authorized by the court. The opposing party shall have 10 days after such service within which to file and serve opposing affidavits, which period may be extended for an additional period not exceeding 20 days by the court for good cause shown or by stipulation of the parties in writing. The court may permit reply affidavits. [As amended by order entered January 31, 1984, effective August 20, 1984, and by order entered January 23, 1986, effective August 1, 1986.]

RULE 59.04: MOTION TO ALTER OR AMEND A JUDGMENT.

A motion to alter or amend a judgment shall be filed and served within thirty (30) days after the entry of the judgment. [As added by order entered January 23, 1986, effective August 1, 1986.]

RULE 59.05: ON INITIATIVE OF COURT.

Within thirty (30) days after entry of judgment the court on its own initiative may alter or amend the judgment, or the court may order a new trial for any reason for which it might have granted a new trial on motion of a party where no such motion has been filed. After giving the parties notice and opportunity to be heard, the court may grant a motion for a new trial, timely filed and served, for reasons not stated in the motion. In either case, the court shall specify in its order the grounds for its action. [As redesignated by order entered January 23, 1986, effective August 1, 1986.]

RULE 59.06: NEW TRIAL WHERE VERDICT IS AGAINST THE WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE.

If the trial court grants a new trial because the verdict is contrary to the weight of the evidence, upon the request of either party the new trial shall be conducted by a different circuit judge or chancellor. [As added by order entered January 25, 1991, effective July 1, 1991.]

RULE 59.07: MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL – GROUNDS.

A new trial may be granted to all or any of the parties and on all or part of the issues in an action in which there has been a trial by jury for any of the reasons for which new trials have heretofore been granted.

Advisory Commission Comments. The provisions of this Rule are generally consistent with the procedure followed prior to the adoption of the Rules of Civil Procedure. The time for filing affidavits has been made more specific. The provisions of Rule 59.04 require specific statement of reasons by the trial judge when taking action thereunder.

Advisory Commission Comments [1984]. 59.01, 59.02: Motion for new trial, motions to alter or amend a judgment, motions to amend or add findings under Rule 52.02, and post-trial motions for directed verdict (for judgment notwithstanding the verdict) under Rule 50.02 all must be made within 30 days after judgment entry. Filing and serving motions in serial fashion will not extend the time for filing a notice of appeal with the trial court clerk. See Gassaway v. Patty, 604 S.W.2d 60 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1980). In particular, motions to reconsider rulings on any of the listed motions will not extend the time for filing a notice of appeal. [1984.]

Advisory Commission Comments [1986]. Multiple orders conceivably may be entered on different dates even though various post-trial motions are simultaneously filed on time. Careful litigators should file a notice of appeal within thirty days after entry of the order appealed from, although in many instances the time would not expire until thirty days from entry of the last order entered. [1986.]

Advisory Commission Comments [1991]. The amendment applies to only one of the many grounds for which a new trial may be granted. This is the familiar “thirteenth juror” rule, requiring the court to order a new trial where the jury verdict is contrary to the weight of the evidence. While Tenn. Code Ann. § 27-2-101, as construed in opinions such as Trott v. West, Moss & Co., 18 Tenn. 499 (1837), limits the number of new trials on this ground alone to two, the Commission believes that public confidence in the justness of civil procedure would be enhanced by providing upon request a different circuit judge or chancellor for the retrial.

Advisory Commission Comments [1993]. The amendment to Rule 59.01 deletes the motion for discretionary costs from the list. Discretionary costs are requested by a motion described in amended Rule 54.04(2).

Advisory Commission Comments [2008]. Motion for new trial grounds have been governed by case law. A helpful list can be found in Professor Larry A. Pivnick’s treatise, Tennessee Circuit Court Practice §28:1 (Thomson West).

Advisory Commission Comments [2010]. The amendment merely corrects an erroneous cross-reference contained in Tenn. R. Civ. P. 59.01.

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