Virginia Post-Trial Motions Lawyer
Mr. Creager has extensive experience in assisting other attorneys on post-trial motions, by consultation and by as co-counsel for purposes of post-trial motions and any potential appeal.
The Supreme Court of Virginia have stated that a party armed with a jury’s verdict which has been approved by the trial court occupies “the most favored position known to the law.” Banks v. Mario Indus., 274 Va. 438, 450, 650 S.E.2d 687 (2007). The Justices have issued at least 23 opinions which include that statement. This principle only applies, however, to a jury verdict which has been approved by the trial court. A plaintiff can win a case at trial, but on post-trial motions the trial court, upon further review and reflection, may conclude that it erred in admitting evidence, erred in instructing the jury, erred in allowing improper closing arguments, or erred in some other respect. For these or other reasons, the trial court may set aside the jury’s verdict and grant a new trial. Prevailing on post-trial motions is thus critically important. Sometimes, trial attorneys have strong trial practice skills but they may be less experienced with and less knowledgeable about the legal research and legal principles that govern post-trial motions.
Often, if plaintiff’s counsel prevails on post-trial motions and the trial court enters judgment on the jury’s verdict, the defense (and the insurance carrier) will decide to forego an appeal and instead satisfy the judgment. This has occurred in numerous cases on which Mr. Creager has provided assistance on post-trial motions. Even if the defense decides to appeal, strong briefing and argument on post-trial motions, and a favorable ruling by the trial court, will put the plaintiff in a very strong position for purposes of the appeal. Often, the trial court will issue an opinion from the bench or a letter opinion which will adopt many of the arguments made in the plaintiff’s post-trial brief. This type of post-trial opinion from the trial court can also be very helpful on appeal.
Sometimes it is the plaintiff who files a post-trial motion seeking to set aside a defense verdict and to obtain a new trial. An example of Mr. Creager’s work on this type of post-trial motion can be found in the federal decision reported at Hall v. Wal-Mart Stores E., L.P., 447 F. Supp. 2d 604 (W.D. Va. 2006). During the trial, at the close of the plaintiff’s evidence the trial court had dismissed the case on the basis that there was no evidence to show that Wal-Mart employees knew of the spilled liquid before the plaintiff slipped and fell on it. Without such evidence, the plaintiff could not establish that Wal-Mart knew or should have known of the dangerous condition in time to have prevented the plaintiff’s fall. In the post-trial motion, Mr. Creager argued that certain statements that had been made by defense counsel during opening statements were sufficient to allow the jury to conclude that a Wal-Mart employee, when informed of the plaintiff’s fall, had said the spill was supposed to have been cleaned up 30 minutes before then. Statements made by lawyers during their opening statements are not evidence in the case, but Mr. Creager contended that defense counsel’s statements were so clear and unequivocal that they “became judicial admissions upon which Plaintiff was entitled to rely during her case-in-chief.” 447 F. Supp. 2d at 610. The federal district court agreed and granted the plaintiff a new trial.
Attorneys who would like to contact Mr. Creager regarding issues that have been raised or might be raised on post-trial motions may reach him by calling his cell phone (804-405-1450) or by sending him an e-mail at email@example.com.