Deng v. Scroggins, [Ms. 1121415, Ala. Dec. 5, 2014], __ So.3d __ (Ala. 2014), involved claims of breach of contract and fraud stemming from an alleged failure by a business partner to include the plaintiff's name as a co-inventor in a patent application concerning LED lamp tubes and the corresponding damages lost from the sales of such patented tubes. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment on the plaintiff's jury verdict for the breach of contract claim, but reversed a judgment for compensatory and punitive damages on the fraud claim based on an insufficiency of evidence of damages.
Key holdings from the opinion include the following: 1. Standard of Review on JML
at * 13, quoting Waddell & Reed, Inc. v. United Investors Life Ins. Co., 875 So.2d 1143, 1152 (Ala. 2003).
"When reviewing a ruling on a motion for a JML, this Court uses the same standard the trial court used initially in deciding whether to grant or deny the motion for a JML. Palm Harbor Homes, Inc. v. Crawford, 689 So.2d 3 (Ala. 1997). Regarding questions of fact, the ultimate question is whether the nonmovant has presented sufficient evidence to allow the case to be submitted to the jury for a factual resolution. Carter v. Henderson, 598 So.2d 1350 (Ala. 1992). The nonmovant must have presented substantial evidence in order to withstand a motion for a JML. See ¤ 12-21-12, Ala. Code 1975; West v. Founders Life Assurance Co. of Florida, 547 So.2d 870, 871 (Ala. 1989). ... In reviewing a ruling on a motion for a JML, this Court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant and entertains such reasonable inferences as the jury would have been free to draw. Id. Regarding a question of law, however, this Court indulges no presumption of correctness as to the trial court's ruling. Ricwil, Inc. v. S.L. Pappas & Co., 599 So.2d 1126 (Ala. 1992)." 2. Standards of Review Re: New Trial
at * 13-14, quoting Delchamps, Inc. v. Bryant, 738 So.2d 824, 831 (Ala. 1999).
"""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.""" * * * "Furthermore, a jury verdict is presumed to be correct, and that presumption is strengthened by the trial court's denial of a motion for a new trial. In reviewing a jury verdict, an appellate court must consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party, and it will set aside the verdict only if it is plainly and palpably wrong." 3. "An Issue May Not Be Raised for the First Time on Appeal."
at * 11, n. 2, quoting , 86 So.3d 952, 962 (Ala. 2011).
4. An Argument Not Made on Appeal is Abandoned or Waived.
at * 14, quoting Muhammad v. Ford, 986 So.2d 1158, 1165 (Ala. 2007), quoting, in turn, Avis Rent A Car Sys., Inc. v. Heilman, 876 So.2d 1111, 1124, n. 8 (Ala. 2003).
5. To Preserve an Issue for Appellate Review, it must Be Presented to the Trial Court by a Timely and Specific Motion Setting out the Specific Grounds in Support Thereof.
at * 33, quoting Ex parte Couilliette, 857 So.2d 793, 794 (Ala. 2003), quoting, in turn, McKinney v. State, 654 So.2d 95, 99 (Ala. Crim. App. 1995)):
"'"[T]o preserve an issue for appellate review, it must be presented to the trial court by a timely and specific motion setting out the specific grounds in support thereof."'" 6. Proof of Damages Must Be Reasonably Certain
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