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Juror Misconduct - Internet Search

Resurrection of Life, Inc. v. Dailey, [Ms. 1180154, June 5, 2020] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2020). The Court (Mitchell, J.; Parker, C.J., and Wise, Mendheim, and Stewart, JJ., concur; Bolin, Shaw, Bryan, and Sellers, JJ., concur in the result) denies the day-care defendants’ motion for new trial based solely on juror misconduct based upon a juror conducting an internet search on the meaning of a word.

“ Juror misconduct involving the introduction of extraneous information necessitates a new trial only when: “1) the jury verdict is shown to have been actually prejudiced by the extraneous material; or 2) the extraneous material is of such a nature as to constitute prejudice as a matter of law.” Ex parte Apicella, 809 So. 2d 865, 870 (Ala. 2001) (abrogated on other grounds, Betterman v. Montana, __ U.S. __, 136 S. Ct. 1609 (2016)). But no single fact or circumstance determines whether a verdict is unlawfully influenced by a juror’s misconduct. 809 So. 2d at 871. Instead, the unique facts and circumstances of each case determine whether juror misconduct resulted in prejudice requiring a new trial.”

Ms. *14. The Court affirms denial of the motion for new trial because the trial court conducted an adequate investigation and found “based on competent evidence, the alleged prejudice to be lacking….” Ms. *15.

The Court holds

The day-care defendants were required to show that at least one juror had been motivated by the extraneous information to decide the case in a particular manner or that there was evidence proving that juror misconduct continued to occur and that the new misconduct affected the verdict. Ankor Energy, LLC v. Kelly, 271 So. 3d 798, 809 (Ala. 2018); Dawson, 710 So. 2d at 475; Bascom v. State, 344 So. 2d 218, 222 (Ala. Crim. App. 1977). The day-care defendants failed to make this showing.

Ms. *20.

Award of Fees Under Prevailing-Party Provision

SMM Gulf Coast, LLC v. Dade Capital Corp. and David Fournier; Collier, et al. v. Dade Capital Corp. and David Fournier, [Ms. 1170743; 1170771, June 5, 2020] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2020). Applying de novo review, the Court (Parker, C.J.; Bolin, Wise, Bryan, Mendheim, and Stewart, JJ., concur; Sellers, J., dissents) reverses the Mobile Circuit Court’s denial of the Defendants’ request for attorney fees and other amounts pursuant to a prevailing-party provision. The Court holds that claims for attorney fees, court costs, and litigation expenses were not compulsory counterclaims that were waived when not asserted in Defendants’ answers. Ms. *16. The Court rejects the trial court’s conclusion that it lacked jurisdiction to award attorney fees after a final judgment was entered, explaining “a trial court has jurisdiction to award attorney fees and costs after entering a final judgment because such requests are collateral to the merits.” Ms. **18-19.

The Court holds “a party requesting attorney fees, court costs, and litigation expenses in accordance with a prevailing-party provision is not required to make that request within a motion invoking Rule 59(e), nor is such a party required to file that request within the 30-day postjudgment period set forth in Rule 59(e).” Ms. *25.

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