RULE 50. JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW IN A JURY TRIAL; RELATED MOTION FOR A NEW TRIAL; CONDITIONAL RULING
(a) Judgment as a Matter of Law.
(1) In General. If a party has been fully heard on an issue during a jury trial and the court finds that a reasonable jury would not have a legally sufficient evidentiary basis to find for the party on that issue, the court may:(A) resolve the issue against the party; and(2) Motion. A motion for judgment as a matter of law may be made at any time before the case is submitted to the jury. The motion must specify the judgment sought and the law and facts that entitle the moving party to the judgment.
(B) grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law against the party on a claim or defense that, under the controlling law, can be maintained or defeated only with a favorable finding on that issue.
(b) Renewing the Motion After Trial; Alternative Motion for a New Trial. If, the court does not grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law made under subdivision (a), the court may later decide the legal questions raised by the motion. The moving party may renew its request for judgment as a matter of law by serving and filing a motion no later than 28 days after notice of entry of judgment or, if the motion addresses a jury issue not decided by a verdict, no later than 28 days after the jury was discharged. The moving party may alternatively request a new trial or join a motion for a new trial under Rule 59. In ruling on a renewed motion, the court may:
(1) if a verdict was returned:(A) allow the judgment to stand,(B) order a new trial, or(C) direct entry of judgment as a matter of law; or
(2) if no verdict was returned:(A) order a new trial, or(B) direct entry of judgment as a matter of law.
(c) Granting the Renewed Motion; Conditional Ruling on a Motion for a New Trial.
(1) In General. If the court grants a renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law, it must also conditionally rule on any motion for a new trial by determining whether a new trial should be granted if the judgment is later vacated or reversed. The court must state the grounds for conditionally granting or denying the motion for a new trial.
(2) Effect of a Conditional Ruling. Conditionally granting the motion for a new trial does not affect the judgment's finality; if the judgment is reversed on appeal, the new trial must proceed unless the appellate court orders otherwise. If the motion for a new trial is conditionally denied, the appellee on appeal may assert error in that denial; if the judgment is reversed on appeal, the case must proceed as the appellate court orders.
(d) Time for a New-Trial Motion. Any motion for a new trial under Rule 59 by a party against whom judgment as a matter of law is rendered must be filed no later than 28 days after notice of entry of the judgment.
(e) Denying the Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law; Reversal on Appeal. If the court denies the motion for judgment as a matter of law, the prevailing party may, as appellee, assert grounds entitling it to a new trial should the appellate court conclude that the trial court erred in denying the motion. If the appellate court reverses the judgment, it may order a new trial, direct the trial court to determine whether a new trial should be granted, or direct the entry of judgment.
Rule 50 was amended, effective January 1, 1979; September 1, 1983; March 1, 1990; March 1, 1994; March 1, 1997; March 1, 1998; March 1, 2008; March 1, 2011.
Rule 50 was revised, effective March 1, 1994, to track the 1991 federal revision. The revision abandons the terminology "directed verdict" and "judgment notwithstanding the verdict." Instead, the terminology "judgment as a matter of law" is substituted.
When ruling on a motion for judgment as a matter of law, the court must decide whether the evidence is such that, without weighing the credibility of the witnesses or otherwise considering the weight of the evidence, a reasonable person could reach but one conclusion as to the verdict, or, otherwise stated, whether the evidence, viewed most favorably to the party against whom the motion is made, and giving that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences from the evidence, compels a result which no reasonable person might differ.
Under paragraph (a)(1) a party does not have to wait until the party with the burden of proof completes its case to move for dismissal. Either party may move for judgment as a matter of law anytime after the party with the burden of proof has been fully heard on an issue.
Rule 50 was amended, effective March 1, 2008, to track the 2006 amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. 50. Paragraph (a)(1) was reorganized to improve clarity and paragraph (a)(2) was amended to allow a motion for judgment as a matter of law to be made at any time before the case is submitted to the jury.
Subdivision (b) was amended, effective March 1, 2008, to allow a party to renew a motion for judgment as a matter of law post-verdict without first renewing the motion at the close of the evidence. Under the amended language, a party who makes a motion that complies with subdivision (a) is allowed to renew the motion after the verdict. A 15-day time limit for renewing a motion addressing a jury issue not decided by the verdict was also added to subdivision (b).
Subdivision (b) was amended, effective March 1, 2011, to increase the time to renew a motion for judgment as a matter of law from 15 to 28 days after notice of entry of judgment.
Subdivision (d) was amended, effective March 1, 2011, to increase the time for a losing party's new trial motion from 15 to 28 days after notice of entry of the judgment.
Rule 50 was amended, effective March 1, 2011, in response to the December 1, 2007, revision of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The language and organization of the rule were changed to make the rule more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules.
SOURCES: Procedure Committee Minutes of April 29-30, 2010, pages 13-14; September 24-25, 2009, page 20; September 28-29, 2006, pages 12-13; September 26-27, 1996, pages 10-12; April 25, 1996, pages 18-19; September 28-29, 1995, page 17; April 29-30, 1993, pages 9-10; January 28-29, 1993, page 8; April 20, 1989, page 2; December 3, 1987, page 11; September 30-October 1, 1982, pages 6-8; January 17-18, 1980, pages 3-4; November 29-30, 1979, page 13; May 25-26, 1978, pages 26-29; January 12-13, 1978, pages 11-12; September 15-16, 1977, pages 24-26; Fed.R.Civ.P. 50; Rules 50.02, 59.02 Minn. Rules of Civil Procedure.
SUPERSEDED: N.D.C.C. § 28-18-06.
CONSIDERED: N.D.C.C. § 28-27-29.1.
CROSS REFERENCE: N.D.R.Civ.P. 59 (New Trials—Amendments of Judgments).