MRCP 59 AND APPEALABILITY IN CHANCERY

March 13, 2013 § 3 Comments

In Forbes v. St. Martin, et al., handed down March 5, 2013, from the COA, the appellants’ first issue on appeal was “Whether the chancellor erred in denying the post-judgment motion of the [appellant] pursuant to MRCP 59.” Judge Griffis, for the majority, said:

¶15. There is actually only one issue in this appeal — whether it was error to grant the summary judgment. A chancellor’s judgment is final and appealable, and there is no requirement that a post-judgment motion be filed to perfect an appeal from chancery court.

¶16. In chancery court, a Rule 59(a) motion may be filed: (i) “for any of the reasons for which rehearings have heretofore been granted in suits in equity in the courts of Mississippi,” or (ii) for a new trial so “the court may open the judgment if one has been entered, take additional testimony, amend findings of fact and conclusions of law or make new findings and conclusions, and direct the entry of a new judgment.” A Rule 59(e) motion would allow the chancellor to “alter or amend the judgment.”

¶17. Forbes’s brief contends that the chancellor erred in the denial of the motion for reconsideration. “[A] motion to set aside or reconsider an order granting summary judgment will be treated as a motion under Rule 59(e).” Brooks v. Roberts, 882 So. 2d 229, 233 (¶15) (Miss. 2004) (citation omitted). “[T]he movant must show: (i) an intervening change in controlling law, (ii) availability of new evidence not previously available, or (iii) need to correct a clear error of law or to prevent manifest injustice.” Id. (citation omitted). A chancellor’s decision to deny a Rule 59 motion is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Brooks, 882 So. 2d at 233 (¶15). Forbes has offered no argument that the chancellor abused his discretion in the denial of the motion for reconsideration. Accordingly, we find no error as to the second issue, and we only consider whether it was proper for the chancellor to grant a summary judgment as to all claims. [Emphasis added]

I’ve made the assertion here before that an MRCP 59 motion is not required as a prerequisite to an appeal in a chancery court proceeding where the case was tried to the judge. A case tried to the judge without a jury does not require such a motion. That is the opposite of the rule when a jury has rendered a verdict in circuit and county courts; in those cases a motion for a directed verdict or JNOV under MRCP 50 would be required as a prerequisite to appeal.

The language above is also a good survey of what must be shown to get relief under R59.

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