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CIVIL PROCEDURE II JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW A. “JML:” If during a trial by jury a party has been fully heard on an issue and there is not legally sufficient basis for a reasonable jury to find for that party on that issue the court may grant a JML against that party. ( 50(a)(1) ) INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE TO GO TO JURY OR EVIDENCE SO COMPELLING ONLY ONE RESULT COULD FOLLOW. 1. Motions for JML or NT must be made within 10 days of entry of judgment, but are typically made at the time the verdict is read. 2. Motions for NT and JML are always made as a pair because the JML ruling could be overturned on appeal. 3. If the defendant appeals a denial of JML, the plaintiff must argue for a new trial at the Appellate Court of lose the opportunity. 5. Probability evidence not enough to overcome motion for JML. ( Armstrong Rubber ) TWO STANDARDS FOR JML 1. Scintilla – any evidence in favor of the nonmoving party 2. Substantial evidence – enough evidence so that a reasonable person could find for the plaintiff. THIS IS THE MODERN STANDARD. NEW TRIAL B. “NT:” Reasons to grant a new trial 1. Verdict is against the clear weight of evidence 2. Misconduct by lawyers, judge, parties, jury 3. Error in Jury instructions 4. Errors in admitting evidence 5. Verdict to high/low 1. Judge can repair an out of line verdict so he doesn’t need to grant a new trial. a. Additur – Asking the defendant to agree to pay more in exchange for denial of NT motion. NO ADDITUR IN FED. CT. AND MOST STATE CTS. ( Dimick ) b. Remittitur – Asking the plaintiff to agree to accept less in exchange for denial of NT motion. OK IN FED. AND STATE CTS.
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2. Usually cannot appeal a grant of new trial motion because its not a final judgment. 3. Can appeal a denial of new trial motion, but only as to abuse of discretion. C. Court might grant motion for NT but deny JML if it does not believe the non- movant’s evidence is so diffiecent that it would be unreasonable for the jury to find for that party, but does believe that the verdict for the non-movant is against the clear weight of the evidence. D. “Relief from judgment:” Party may obtain relief from a judgment if: 1. mistake, inadvertence, surprise, neglect 2. newly discovered evidence 3. fraud 4. judgment is void 5. judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged 6. any other reason justifying relief ( 60(b) ) 1. Motion on issues 1,2,3 must be made within one year of judgment. 2. Motion of 4,5,6 must be made within a reasonable time. E. “Harmless Error:” Court must disregard any error which does not affect the substantial rights of the parties. SPECIAL VERDICT / INTERROGATORIES A. “Special Verdict:” The court may require a jury to return only a special verdict in the form of a special written finding upon each issue of fact, no actual verdict. ( 49(a) ) B. “Interrogatories:” The court may submit to the jury along with forms for a general verdict, written interrogatories upon one of more issues of fact necessary to a verdict.
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  • Spring '05
  • Krakoff
  • Law, Fed

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