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Ahern v. Scholz

Citation. 22 Ill.85 F.3d 774 (1st Cir. 1996)
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Brief Fact Summary.

This case involves a breach of contract action between a band manager, Ahern (Plaintiff) and a successful musician from the band Boston, Scholz (Defendant). At issue is a series of agreements entered into between the two parties regarding Boston’s first three albums.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

An appellate court will reverse a denial of a motion for new trial because the verdict was against the weight of the evidence, only if the district court judge committed an abuse of discretion. So long as a reasonable basis existed for the jury’s verdict, an appellate court will not disturb the district court’s ruling on appeal.


Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant for alleged failure to pay royalties due from one of the musician’s albums, in violation of one of the agreements previously entered into between the parties. Defendant asserted various counterclaims against Plaintiff, including a breach of one of the previous agreements between the parties.


At issue is whether the appellate court should reverse the decision of the district court denying Defendant’s Motion for a New Trial.


The evidence presented in the record clearly establishes that the jury had a reasonable basis for concluding that Plaintiff did not substantially breach his agreement with Defendant. As a result, the appellate court found that the jury’s verdict was not against the clear weight of the evidence and the district court did not abuse its discretion in its findings.


The position of the appellate court in reviewing the denial of a motion for a new trial should not be to assess the credibility of the witnesses and weight of their testimony. Rather, the function of the appellate court should be to isolate the factual basis for the trial court’s ruling to determine whether a reasonable basis existed for that decision.

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