It’s not over ’til it’s over.

Here’s a cool and very thorough article on “When is the Verdict or Judgment Final?: An Examination of Post Trial Activity in Civil Litigation”. There are a lot of neat factoids throughout, such as your odds of prevailing on a JNOV or motion for new trial (hint: they’re not good, but better if you’re the defendant) or whether post trial activity is more likely after a jury or bench trial (unsurprisingly, it’s more likely after a jury trial). Litigant characteristics also matter: plaintiffs are more likely to seek post-trial relief against an organization defendant than an individual defendants, but defendants’ rate of post-trial activity is not related to party characteristics.

In all, 35% of cases, either a post trial motion or appeal was filed. The breakdown:

“[L]itigants requested post trial relief in an estimated 28% of civil trials and filed notices of appeal in 18% of civil trials. Post trial motions were filed in nearly a third of trials won by the plaintiff and in a quarter of trials where the plaintiff did not prevail. In terms of appellate activity, appeals were filed at nearly identical rates among trials won (18%) and lost (17%) by the plaintiff. ”

And if you’ve won at trial level as a Plaintiff, it may just pay to keep on going: “In addition to the sizable minorities of plaintiff winners seeking to challenge trial court outcomes, courts granted post relief more frequently to plaintiffs than defendants. Over a third (37%) of plaintiff winners requesting post trial relief received it. Defendants, in comparison, were granted post trial relief in 1 out of 4 trials where they sought to amend or overturn trial decisions that found for the plaintiff. ”

However, Plaintiffs that lose at trial are likely to keep on losing. Defendants who win, however, fare very nicely indeed: “[P]laintiffs filed post trial motions (21%) and appeals (16%) in considerable numbers of trials that they lost. Defendant winners, in comparison, sought post trial relief by filing motions or appeals in less than 5% of civil trials. In terms of ruling in favor of a post trial motion, courts granted post trial relief to only 7% of plaintiffs who sought it. Even though few defendants who won at trial requested relief, it was granted to nearly 60% of those defendants making a relief request.”

-Susan

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