RULE 50. JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW IN JURY TRIALS
(a) Judgment as a matter of law.
(1) If during a trial by jury a party has been fully heard on an issue and there is no
sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to find for that party on that issue, the court
may determine the issue against that party and may grant a motion for judgment as a matter
of law against that party with respect to a claim, or defense that cannot under the controlling
law be maintained or defeated without a favorable finding on that issue.
(2) Motions for judgment as a matter of law may be made at any time before
of the case to the jury. Such a motion shall specify the judgment sought and the law and the
facts on which the moving party is entitled to the judgment.
(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
(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.
(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 movant to the judgment.
(b) Renewing the 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 under subdivision (a), 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 notice of entry of judgment or--if the motion
addresses a jury issue not decided by a verdict--no later than 15 days after the jury was
discharged. and The movant 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
(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.
(1) If the renewed motion for judgment is granted, the court shall also rule on any motion for a new trial, by determining whether it should be granted if the judgment is thereafter vacated or reversed and specifying the grounds for granting or denying the motion for the new trial. If the motion for a new trial is conditionally granted, the order does not affect the finality of the judgment. If the motion for a new trial has been conditionally granted and the judgment is reversed on appeal, the new trial must proceed unless the appellate court has otherwise ordered. If the motion for a new trial has been conditionally denied, the appellee on appeal may assert error in that denial, and if the judgment is reversed on appeal, subsequent proceedings must be in accordance with the order of the appellate court.
(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 notice of entry of judgment.
(d) Same--Denial of motion for judgment as a matter of law. If the motion for judgment as a matter of law is denied, the party who prevailed on that motion may, as appellee, assert grounds entitling the party to a new trial in the event the appellate court concludes that the trial court erred in denying the motion for judgment. If the appellate court reverses the judgment, nothing in this rule precludes it from determining that the appellee is entitled to a new trial, or from directing the trial court to determine whether a new trial should be granted.
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.
It is emphasized that unless counsel informs the court that a ruling on both motions for a
new trial and judgment notwithstanding the verdict is 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
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.
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
verdict 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 men 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. "
revised paragraph (a)(1) a party no longer has
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
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
Paragraph (a)(2) retains the requirement that a motion for judgment be made prior
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
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.
Sources: Joint Procedure Committee Minutes of 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 ,
FRCivP; Rules 50.02, 59.02 Minn. Rules of Civil Procedure.
Superseded: N.D.R.C. 1943 § § 28-1509, 28-1510, and 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--Amendment of Judgments).