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Civil Procedure Fall 2014

Notes on JNOV Motions


Reserving Decision.


Under the Seventh Amendment, “no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”  In Slocum v. New York Life Insurance Company, 228 U.S. 364 (1913)—a “bitterly criticized case”—the Supreme Court held that once a case has gone to the jury, the Seventh Amendment prevents the judge from entering a judgment contrary to that verdict.  9B Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2522 (3d ed. 2013).  Redman distinguished Slocum by focusing on the fact that the judge had reseved judgment on the defendant’s directed verdict motions and had submitted the case to the jury subject to his decision on those motions.  See id.  Under Rule 50(b), express reservation is no longer necessary: “the court is considered to have submitted the action to the jury subject to the court’s later deciding the legal questions raised by the motion,” even if it expressly denied the motion.


Timing Issues.


Under Rule 50(a), a party may make a motion for judgment as a matter of law after it “has been fully heard on an issue.”  This contrasts with some courts’ earlier reluctance to grant such a motion until after “the close of all of the evidence” in accordance with a previous version of Rule 50.  The current rule gives a party 28 days from the entry of judgment against it to renew a prior motion for judgment as a matter of law.