SCOA: New Trial Due to Improper Argument Proper Despite No Objection at Time Since Court Aware of Issue

Smith v. Hopper, 2015 Ark. 210, 462 S.W.3d 335 (2015).

In personal injury negligence action, circuit court granted motion for new trial on basis that plaintiff’s counsel misstated in closing argument that a police officer who provided key testimonial evidence had been reprimanded.

Plaintiff argued on appeal that the new trial was improperly granted because there had been no contemporaneous objection during the closing argument.

At trial, the defense counsel had made an objection after the circuit court raised the issue sua sponte.

Continue reading SCOA: New Trial Due to Improper Argument Proper Despite No Objection at Time Since Court Aware of Issue

ACOA: No Discretion Abuse in Striking Amended Complaint Filed 3 Days Before Summary Judgment Hearing

Orintas v. Point Lookout Property Owners Association Board of Directors, 2015 Ark. App. 648, 476 S.W.3d 174 (2015).

At hearing on appellee’s motion for summary judgment, circuit court granted appellee’s oral motion to strike appellants’ third amended complaint that was filed three days before the hearing.

Appellants argued that striking the complaint was abuse of discretion. Court of appeals affirmed. Continue reading ACOA: No Discretion Abuse in Striking Amended Complaint Filed 3 Days Before Summary Judgment Hearing

ACOA: Rule 6(b)(1) Does Not Require Ruling on Answer Time Extension Before Time Expires

The Logan Centers, Inc. v. Walker, 2015 Ark. App. 687.

Prior to the expiration of time to file its answer, defendant filed a motion for extension of time. Defendant attached affidavits in support of the motion.

Circuit court denied the motion holding that the motion was not presented to the court nor was a ruling requested prior to the answer time expiring. Circuit court also held that the motion lacked credible evidentiary proof.

Court of appeals reversed holding that Rule 6(b)(1) does not require a request for trial court ruling prior to the answer time expiration.

Continue reading ACOA: Rule 6(b)(1) Does Not Require Ruling on Answer Time Extension Before Time Expires

April 2015 Revisions to Rules 11 and 42

Effective April 1, 2015, significant changes were made to Rules 11 and 42 of the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure.

The changes were announced by the Supreme Court of Arkansas in a per curiam opinion (2015 Ark. 88) issued on February 26, 2015.

Here are some of the changes:

Ark. R. Civ. P. 42 – Punitive Damages Bifurcation 

Rule 42 now has a new paragraph (b)(2). It states that in any case before a jury in which punitive damages are sought, on the motion of any party and if warranted by the evidence, a bifurcated trial shall be conducted before the same jury.

The issues of liability and compensatory damages are to be decided in the first trial. The issue of liability for punitive damages may be decided in either the first or second trial. That is up to the discretion of the trial judge.

The issue of the appropriate amount of punitive damages can only be decided at the second trial. Evidence of the defendant’s financial condition cannot be admitted in the first trial unless relevant to some other issue.

Ark. R. Civ. P. 11 – Expert Testimony Certificate; Sanctions 

Rule 11 has been reorganized with additional paragraphs added for clarity.

It contains a new requirement under (b)(5) that when a claim or affirmative defense can only be established by expert testimony, the party certifies that it has consulted with an expert or learned in discovery of an expert’s opinion who (i) is believed to be competent under Ark. R. Evid. 702 to express an opinion in the action and (ii) concludes based on available information that there is a reasonable basis for the claim or affirmative defense.

Continue reading April 2015 Revisions to Rules 11 and 42

SCOA: Summons Stating Incorrect Incarcerated Response Days Invalid Even If No Incarceration

Earls v. Harvest Credit Management VI-B, LLC, 2015 Ark. 175,460 S.W.3d 795 (2015).

The Arkansas Supreme Court held in this case that a summons was invalid for stating incorrectly the number of days in which the defendant would have to respond to summons if defendant was incarcerated.

The summons stated that defendants would have 30 days to respond if incarcerated rather than the correct number of 60.

Continue reading SCOA: Summons Stating Incorrect Incarcerated Response Days Invalid Even If No Incarceration