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Court sets aside verdict achieved by misconduct of counsel and client at trial

Park West Galleries became involved in a controversy over whether it was selling Salvador Dali works and other art with falsified artist signatures.  It sued the authors of these claims for defamation and the authors, the Global Fine Art Regsitry [GFAR] and its website and owners, counter-sued.  At trial, the attorney for GFAR and one of his clients were repeatedly reprimanded by the court for improper conduct, arguments, questions and remarks.  Despite this conduct, or perhaps because of it, the jury ultimately gave no verdict to the the Park West Galleries, and awarded nothing to GFAR for defamation, but did grant a $500,000.00 verdict to GFAR on a corollary theory. 

The trial judge set this latter verdict aside, deeming it the result of prejudice and improper conduct by counsel. The Defendants who achieved the verdict on their countrerclaim appealed, arguing that the trial judge did not have authority to set aside the verdict because the Plaintiffs did not raise the issue by a mistrial request before the jury verdict was rendered. 

The Sixth Circuit held that while a party cannot "roll the dice" on a jury verdict and then appeal misbehavior if it miscalculated the jury's result, a court always retains the right to set aside a miscarriage of justice within 28 days and before a final judgment is entered.

Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
309 East Front Street
Traverse City, Michigan 49684
Toll Free: 1-800-678-1307
Fax: 231-929-7262