Ground Stated in Motion for New Trial Colors Standard of Review

In Beauchamp v. Coastal Boat Storage, LLC et al., No. 1061515 (Ala. Sept. 5, 2008), the Supreme Court held that when a plaintiff asserts as the sole ground for a motion for new trial that the verdict is against the great weight or preponderance of the evidence, a trial court order granting the motion for new trial, “’will be reversed for abuse of discretion where on review it is easily perceivable from the record that the jury verdict is supported by the evidence.’" Id. at *14 (quoting Jawad v. Granade, 497 So. 2d 571, 477 (Ala. 1986)). This is so even when the trial court does not state the basis for its order granting the motion for new trial, and there are errors in the trial record that warrant a new trial.

“In reviewing the trial court’s decision, we ‘must review the evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party and must indulge all reasonable inferences the jury was free to draw.’ Floyd v. Broughton, 664 So. 2d 897, 900 (Ala. 1995).” Id. at *16. In contrast, when a motion for a new trial states as one ground that the verdict is against the great weight or the preponderance of the evidence, and the movant also asserts a second ground for the new trial motion, then the appellate court applies a more deferential standard of review. “’It is well established that a ruling on a motion for a new trial rests within the sound discretion of the trial judge. The exercise of that discretion carries with it a presumption of correctness, which will not be disturbed by this Court unless some legal right is abused and the record plainly and palpably shows the trial judge to be in error.’" Id. at *15 (quoting Kane v. Edward J. Woerner & Sons, Inc., 543 So.2d 693, 694 (Ala. 1989)).