STEVENS et al.
FOOD LION, LLC.
C. J., MILLER, P. J, and REESE, J.
and Roy Stevens ("the plaintiffs") filed a
negligence action against Food Lion, LLC, after Adrienne fell
at a Food Lion store. Following a jury trial, the trial court
entered judgment in favor of the plaintiffs. Thereafter, the
trial court granted Food Lion's motion to amend the
judgment to include attorney fees and costs under OCGA §
9-11-68. The plaintiffs appeal, arguing that the trial court
was without authority to amend the judgment. For the reasons
that follow, we affirm.
facts relevant to this appeal are undisputed. On November 26,
2012, the plaintiffs sued Food Lion. On November 26, 2013,
Food Lion sent plaintiffs' counsel an offer of settlement
made pursuant to OCGA § 9-11-68, offering to settle all
claims for $25, 000; the plaintiffs rejected the offer.
Following a trial, the jury found in favor of Adrienne as to
her claims in the amount of $25, 000, but found her 30
percent negligent; it found in favor of Food Lion as to
Roy's loss of consortium claim. On July 2, 2015, the
trial court entered judgment in favor of Adrienne in the
amount of $17, 500, which amount reflects the reduction based
upon the jury's finding that she was contributorily
30, 2015, Food Lion filed a motion for attorney fees and
costs pursuant to OCGA § 9-11-68 (b) (1) and a separate
motion to amend the final judgment to add attorney fees and
costs. The following day, the plaintiffs filed a
motion for new trial; they later dismissed that motion on
December 8, 2015. On June 21, 2016, the trial court held a
hearing on Food Lion's motions for attorney fees and
costs and to amend the judgment. Plaintiffs' counsel
argued that the fees were not reasonable, but declined to
present evidence or cross-examine Food Lion's witnesses
regarding the fees and costs.
the hearing, on June 22, 2016, the trial court entered an
order granting Food Lion's motion to amend the June 2015
judgment to add attorney fees and costs pursuant to OCGA
§ 9-11-68 and awarding to Food Lion attorney fees in the
amount of $58, 548 and costs in the amount of $4,
127.70. This appeal follows.
appeal, the plaintiffs do not challenge the amount or
reasonableness of the fees, nor do they contend that an
attorney fees and costs award pursuant to the offer of
settlement statute was improper. Instead, the plaintiffs
argue that the trial court erred by amending the judgment
outside the term of court to include the attorney fees and
costs award. We disagree.
motion, Food Lion requested that the trial court amend the
judgment pursuant to OCGA § 15-1-3 (6),  which provides:
"Every court has power . . . [t]o amend and control its
processes and orders, so as to make them conformable to law
and justice, and to amend its own records, so as to make them
conform to the truth."
It is well established that a trial court has no jurisdiction
to change or modify a judgment outside the term of court in
which the judgment was entered. After the close of the term
of court in which the judgment was entered, it is out of the
power of the court to modify and revise it in any matter of
substance or in any matter affecting the
case, the original judgment was issued during the June 2015
term, and although the order amending the judgment was not
entered until the June 2016 term, Food Lion filed the motion
to amend in July 2015, during the same term of court as the
original judgment. Thus, "the [trial] court . . . had
inherent power to amend the judgment because the motion was
made in the same term in which the original judgment was
Miller, P. J., and Reese, J., concur.