RULE 50. JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW
IN JURY TRIALS
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(b) Renewing Motion for Judgment After Trial; Alternative Motion for a New Trial. If, the court does not grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law made at the close of all the evidence, the court may later decide the legal questions raised by the motion. The movant may renew its request for judgment as a matter of law by serving and filing a motion not later than 15 days after service of notice of entry of judgment and may 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
(B) direct entry of judgment as a matter of law.
(c) Granting renewed motion for Judgment as a matter of law; Conditional Rulings; New Trial Motion.
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(2) A party against whom a judgment as a matter of law has been entered, must serve and file any motion for new trial under Rule 59 no later than 15 days after service of notice of entry of judgment.
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Rule 50 was amended, effective January 1, 1979; September 1, 1983; March 1, 1990; March 1, 1994; March 1, 1998; __________________.
It is emphasized
thatunless counsel informs the court that arulings on both motions for a new trial and judgment notwithstanding the verdict isare to be made, it will be considered a waiver of whatever motion the court did not rule on. Both motions must be pursued in the trial court. Anderson v. Kroh, 301 N.W.2d 359 (N.D. 1981).
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. In determining whether to grant judgment as a matter of law, the standard remains the same as the standard for determining whether a directed verdict or judgment notwithstanding the verdict should be granted. The standard was enunciated in Anderson v. Kroh, 301 N.W.2d 359 (N.D. 1981) as follows:
"When ruling on a motion for a directed verdict or for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, 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, reasonable men 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 revised paragraph (a)(1) a party no longer has 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.
Paragraph (a)(2) retains the requirement
thata motion for judgment be made prior to the close of trial, subject to renewal after a jury verdict has been rendered. The moving party must articulate the basis on which a judgment as a matter of law might be rendered. The purpose of these requirements is to allow the responding party a chance to cure any overlooked deficiency in proof if the trial court permits. The decision to reopen a case, and to admit additional evidence after a party has rested, is in the sound discretion of the trial court. Leno v. Ehli, 339 N.W.2d 92, 95 (N.D. 1983).
Amended subdivision (b) retains the concept of the former rule that the post-verdict motion is a renewal of an earlier motion made at the close of the evidence. A post-trial motion for judgment can be granted only on grounds advanced in the pre-verdict motion.
A party should be aware notice of entry of judgment or an order is not necessary to start the time running for filing a post-judgment motion. Actual knowledge of entry of judgment or an order, when clearly evidenced by the record, starts the time running for filing a post-judgment motion. See Lang v. Bank of North Dakota, 377 N.W.2d 575, 578 (N.D. 1985). Actual knowledge of entry of the judgment or order requires action evident on the record on the part of the moving party. See Thorson v. Thorson, 541 N.W.2d 692, 695 (N.D. 1996).
SOURCES: Procedure Committee Minutes of ___________________; September 26-27, 1996, pages 10-12; April 25, 1996, pages 18-19; 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; Rule 50, FRCivP; Rules 50.02, 59.02 Minn. Rules of Civil Procedure.
SUPERSEDED: Sections 28-1509, 28-1510, NDRC 1943, and 28-18-06, NDCC.
CONSIDERED: Section 28-27-29.1, NDCC.
CROSS REFERENCE: Rule 59 (New Trials -- Amendments of Judgments), NDRCivP.