Obsolete Date: 3/1/1998
(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 legally 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 submission 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.
(b) Renewal of Motion for Judgment After Trial; Alternative Motion for a New Trial. Whenever a motion for a judgment as a matter of law made at the close of all the evidence is denied or for any reason is not granted, the court is deemed to have submitted the action to the jury subject to a later determination of the legal questions raised by the motion. Such a motion may be renewed by service and filing not later than 10 days after notice of entry of judgment. A motion for a new trial under Rule 59 may be joined with a renewal of the motion for judgment as a matter of law, or a new trial may be requested in the alternative. If a verdict was returned, the court may, in disposing of the renewed motion, allow the judgment to stand or may reopen the judgment and either order a new trial or direct the entry of judgment as a matter of law. If no verdict was returned, the court may, in disposing of the renewed motion, direct the entry of judgment as a matter of law or may order a new trial.
(c) Same--Conditional ruling on grant of motion for Judgment as a matter of law.
(1) If the renewed motion for judgment is granted, the court shall also rule on the motion for a new trial, if any, by determining whether it should be granted if the judgment is thereafter vacated or reversed, and shall specify the grounds for granting or denying the motion for the new trial. If the motion for a new trial is thus conditionally granted, the order thereon does not affect the finality of the judgment. In case 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. In case 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) The party against whom judgment as a matter of law has been rendered may serve a motion for a new trial pursuant to Rule 59 not later than ten days after notice of entry of the 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 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).