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Civil Procedure II Outline - Part 11

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<< Part 10 | Part 12 >>

50 Judgments as a Matter of Law in a Jury Trial; Related Motion for a New Trial; Conditional Ruling
  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:
    1. resolve the issue against the party; and
    2. 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.
    • 50(a) analysis
      • Rule 50 a does not prohibit making two rule 50a motions.
      • 50a1
        • The only imitation is that the motion cannot be made until a “party has been fully heard on an issue”
          • Says that a court can grant a judgment as a matter of law after “ a party has been fully heard on an issue. This means that a party can make a motion after the nonmoving party has had an opportunity to present all of her evidence on the issue that is the subject of the motion.
      • 50a2
        • 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
      • Taken together those two subsections mean that a rule 50 a motion can typically be made either (1) after the no-moving party (usually the plaintiff has been heard on the issue” (2) after both parties have presented all of their evidence or (3) at both times
      • The united states supreme court has made clear that a party's rule 50a motion cannot be appealed unless the motion is renewed pursuant to rule 60(b)

(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 Rule 50(a), 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. No later than 28 days after the 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 movant may file a renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law and may include an alternative or joint request for a new trial under Rule 59. In ruling on the renewed motion, the court may:

  1. allow judgment on the verdict, if the jury returned a verdict;
  2. order a new trial; or
  3. direct the entry of judgment as a matter of law.
    • Analysis of rule 50(b)
      • If the case goes to a jury, but a reasonable jury could find the verdict decided, the judge can exercise gatekeeping authority.
        • If the movantant renews his motion for judgment as a matter of law, the judge can set aside the jury's verdict and enter judgment for the correct party instead.
          • Rule 50 b authorises the judge to grant this renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law which most state courts refer to a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or jnov.
      • Remember that the rule 50(b) motion is simply a renewed rule 50(a) motion so it stands to reason that courts will employ the same analysis.
        • One difference between the two motions is that they implicitly distinct pragmatic concerns mentioned earlier.
        • The other difference is that the motions may be made on different records if the rule 50 a motion is made at the close of the plaintiffs evidence then rule 50b made within 28 days after entry of judgment. The court ruling will have the benefit of the defendants evident which it would ont have had in the ruling on the pripor 50a motion.
      • If the court does not grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law made under rule 50 a the court is considered to have submitted the action to the jury subjection to the courts later deciding the legal questions raised by the motion.
        • Thi means that if a party fails to make a rule 50a motion, the party has waived the opportunity to make a rule 50 b motion.
      • Parties can now make a rule 50 b motion as long as they previously made a rule 50 a motion at some point after the nonmoving party had been fully heard on the relevant issue and before submission of the case to the jury.
      • Whatever issue you raised on 50a has to be the same issue you raised on 50 b

(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, the new trial must proceed unless the appellate court orders otherwise. If the motion for a new trial is conditionally denied, the appellee may assert error in that denial; if the judgment is reversed, the case must proceed as the appellate court orders.

(d) Time for a Losing Party's 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 the 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.

Basic Pleading

a. Pleading

  1. a paper containing factual assertions that support jurisdiction and legal claims in a civil suit
    1. Fed 8(a)
  2. First pleading is called a complaint
    1. Grounds for SMJ
      1. 8(a)(1)
    2. Claim
      1. 8(a)(2)
        1. A short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.
    3. Demand for Relief
      1. 8(a)(3)
  3. Defendants First Pleading is called an answer
    1. Response to factual allegations
    2. Asserts Defenses
    3. Counterclaims
      1. Normally Completes the pledging process.

b. Historical Purposes of Pleading

  1. Giving notice of the nature of a claim or defense
  2. Stating facts
  3. Narrowing issues for litigation
  4. Helping the court throw out bogus claims and defenses without the burden of a trial

c. Rule 8(a)2

  1. Stress that you need to make a short and plain statement of a claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.

d. Sufficiency of a complaint

  1. A defendant often challenges the sufficiency of the complaint to state a claim
    1. An insufficient claim can be attacked in federal court by a defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim
    2. Sometimes called a demurrer in a state case
      1. 12(b)6- failure to state a claim.
        1. Reasonable doubts should be resolved in favor of the pleader.
        2. A court should grant a motion if assuming the truth of the well pleaded factual allegations, it determines that they do not p;ausibly show an entitlement to relief under the applicable law. It is not enough that such allegations are equally consistent with an innocent explanation as with a liability creating explanation.

e. Modern Pleading

  1. Narrow issues that had to be decided.

f. Code Pleading

  1. Facts had to be pleaded
    1. Not mere conclusions of law
      1. Needs to be
        1. What
        2. When
        3. Where
        4. Who
        5. Relationship
  2. What is the Cause of Action

g. Notice Pleading

  1. What we have now
  2. Starting in 1938 Fed Rules of Civ Pro

h. Other Pleading Rules

  1. 8(d)2
    1. Pleading in the alternative
  2. 11
    1. Requires a reasonable pre-filling inquiry into the facts by the pleader which may settle these kinds of questions before the pleading is filed.
  3. 10(b)
    1. Forms of pleadings
      1. Requires numbered paragraphs each limited as far as possible to a single set of circumstances thought it does not require identification of claims it urges that each claim should be stated in a separate count when “ doing so would promote clarity”
  4. 8(e)
    1. Pleadings must be construed so as to do justice.
      1. Small errors of FORM are unlikely to be fatal indeed it could well be reversible error for a court to penalize the pleader for minor errors.
  5. 8(c)(1)
    1. The court can grant a motion to dismiss if the availability of this defense is apparent on the face of the complaint.

i. Case for this Chapter

  1. Doe. V. SMith
    1. Plaintiffs need not plead facts they need not plead law they plead claims for relief usually they need do no more than narrate a grievance simply and directly so that the defendant knows what he has been accused of.
    2. A complaint suffices if any facts consistent with its allegation and showing and entitlement to prevail could be established by affidavit or testimony at trial and the complaint does not contradict itself.
    3. A complaint does not have to establish or mention a prima facie case. Elements do not have to be stated but must be able to be implicated. Reasonable doubts should be resolved in favor of the pleader.
      1. Notes After Case
        1. A complaint must contain either direct or inferential allegations respecting all the material elements necessary to sustain a recovery under some viable legal theory
          1. No rigid elements pleading requirement.
            1. Sorema Held
              1. That a plaintiff need not plead facts establishing a prima facie claim.
          2. Rule 8(a)
            1. Requires only to plead a claim sufficient to let the opposing party know what that plaintiff is complaining about.
  2. Heightened pleading
    1. Federal rules of civil procedure 9
      1. imposes heightened pleading requirements for such allegations of fraud and mistake.
        1. 9(b)
          1. “A party must state with particularity the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake.”
        2. Second Part of 9(b)
          1. “Malice, intent, knowledge and other conditions of a person's mind may be alleged generally”
            1. This part of rule 9 excuses a pleader from pleading discriminatory intent “under an elevated pleading standard. “
        3. 9(g)
          1. Requires that special damages be specifically be stated.
            1. Special damaes are those that would not noramlly be anticipated such as damages for a later miscarriage or higher blood pressure said to have resulted from an automobile accident.
            2. Special damages should be specifically stated to avoid surprise to the defendant.
    2. Reasons
      1. Fair Notice
      2. Protecting Reputation
      3. Protecting the public moneys
      4. Suspect plaintiffs
    3. Fun Facts
      1. Expressio unius is a frequently used tool or canon of statutory construction making it one of a small number of lantins worth committing to memory.
  3. Iqbal
    1. Two Principles of Twombly
      1. Legal conclusion not true, only well pleaded allegation
        1. The allegations must be well pleaded to assume their truth.
          1. Allegations more than just a threadbare recital of the elements of the cause of actions.
      2. Must be more than a mere possibility must be plausible.
    2. The Break From Conley
      1. Factual
      2. In Favor of defendant
    3. Critiques
      1. Need discovery to make allegations
      2. Takes away potential trials
      3. Judges get awfully close to answering jury questions.
    4. Positives
      1. Unfair settlements from defendants
      2. And counterbalance broad discovery.
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