Case Caption: In re Florence RoyerCase Number: S. Ct. Civ. No. 2014-0023Date: 06/30/2014Author: Per CuriamCitation: Summary:

A petition seeking a writ of mandamus directing a Superior Court judge presiding over a case pending in that court and the acting clerk of that court to immediately sign and enter judgment on the jury verdict received in the case, is denied. Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 13(b), no answer to the present petition is required and this matter is decided based upon the petition and the record provided. In this case the post-verdict submission of a proposed judgment and plaintiff's motion for an award of costs, which would increase her recovery, as well as the defendant's renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law, briefed in 2013, remain pending in the court below. To obtain a writ of mandamus, a petitioner must establish that her right to the writ is clear and indisputable. In this case petitioner's right to immediate entry of judgment is not clear and indisputable. While Superior Court Rule 49 requires the judge to sign, and the clerk to enter, a judgment upon determination of an action, in this case a final determination of petitioner's action has not yet occurred. Since the defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law is cognizable under Superior Court Rule 50, a judge is under absolutely no obligation to enter judgment on the jury verdict, which could potentially be set aside if the motion for judgment as a matter of law is granted. Moreover, when-as here-a party moves for costs before entry of judgment on the primary claim has occurred, the better practice is for the trial court to defer entry of the written judgment until after a ruling is made on the issue of attorney's fees, and incorporate all of its rulings into a single, written judgment so that there will be only one appeal, from one judgment, incorporating all issues in the case. In declining to enter judgment on the jury verdict while motions from both petitioner and the defendant remain pending, the Superior Court judge has exercised his discretion in a manner that furthers judicial economy and prevents piecemeal appeals. Thus, petitioner has failed to meet the criteria for mandamus relief and the petition is denied.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion