California Civil Code Section 914 - Interpretation

In Hennigan v. United Pacific Ins. Co. (1975) 53 Cal.App.3d 1, the appellate court recognized the limited nature of the relief allowed by section 914 in reversing an order that granted a limited new trial on the issue of damages. Recognizing a motion under this statute is separate and distinct from the statutes generally governing new trial motions (Code Civ. Proc., 656 et seq.), and that the only relief permitted is to set aside or vacate the judgment and order a new trial, Hennigan declared "we may not disregard or enlarge the plain provisions of the statute, nor may we go beyond the meaning of the words used when they are clear and unambiguous." (Hennigan v. United Pacific Ins. Co., supra, 53 Cal.App.3d at p. 7.) Code of Civil Procedure section 914 unambiguously declares its intent to protect a litigant's appellate rights by ensuring the existence of a complete record of the trial proceedings. Furthermore, because "an election to take the one is a renunciation of the others," cases have recognized "the acceptance of the fruits of a judgment is inconsistent with the right either to move for a new trial or to appeal therefrom . . . ." (Wold v. League of Cross of Archdiocese of San Francisco (1930) 107 Cal.App. 344, 347; see also Storke v. Storke (1901) 132 Cal. 349, 352-353.)