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RULE 50. MOTION FOR A DIRECTED VERDICT

July 25, 2011

RULE 50.01: WHEN MADE — EFFECT.

A motion for a directed verdict may be made at the close of the evidence offered by an opposing party or at the close of the case. The court shall reserve ruling until all parties alleging fault against any other party have presented their respective proof-in-chief. A party who moves for a directed verdict at the close of the evidence offered by an opponent may offer evidence in the event that the motion is not granted, without having reserved the right so to do and to the same extent as if the motion had not been made. A motion for a directed verdict which is not granted is not a waiver of trial by jury even though all parties to the action have moved for directed verdicts. The order of the court granting a motion for a directed verdict is effective without any assent of the jury.

RULE 50.01: WHEN MADE — EFFECT.

Whenever a motion for a directed verdict 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. Within thirty (30) days after the entry of judgment a party who has moved for a directed verdict may move to have the verdict and any judgment entered thereon set aside and to have judgment entered in accordance with the party’s motion for a directed verdict; or if a verdict was not returned, such party, within thirty (30) days after the jury has been discharged, may move for a judgment in accordance with such party’s motion for a directed verdict. A motion for a new trial may be joined with this motion, or a new trial may be prayed for in the alternative. If a verdict was returned, the court may allow the judgment to stand or may reopen the judgment and either order a new trial or direct the entry of judgment as if the requested verdict had been directed. If no verdict was returned the court may direct the entry of judgment as if the requested verdict had been directed or may order a new trial.

RULE 50.03: CONDITIONAL RULINGS ON GRANT OF MOTION.

If the motion for judgment entered in accordance with a motion for a directed verdict, provided for in 50.02, 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 a new trial. If the motion for a new trial is thus conditionally granted, the order thereon does not affect the finality of the judgment. If the motion for a new trial is thus conditionally granted and the judgment is reversed on appeal, the new trial shall 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 shall be in accordance with the order of the appellate court.

The party whose verdict has been set aside on motion to have judgment entered in accordance with a motion for a directed verdict, as provided for in 50.02, may serve a motion for a new trial not later than thirty (30) days after entry of the judgment granting the motion.

RULE 50.04: DENIAL OF MOTION.

If the motion for judgment entered in accordance with a motion for a directed verdict, as provided for in 50.02, is denied, the party who prevailed on that motion may, as appellee, by assignments of error assert grounds entitling him to a new trial. 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 shall be granted.

RULE 50.05: MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL NOT NECESSARY AFTER DIRECTED VERDICT.

Whenever a court shall have granted a directed verdict, it shall not be necessary for the party against whom the verdict was directed to file a motion for a new trial in order to obtain appellate review of such action of the court.

Advisory Commission Comments.

50.01: It is not the intention of these Rules to affect constitutional powers or jurisdictional rules. This Rule therefore does not enlarge or restrict a chancery court’s authority to withdraw issues from the jury. It simply describes the procedure to be followed in directing verdicts in chancery cases as well as in circuit cases, subject always to any constitutional or jurisdictional limitations.

50.02: This Rule permits a trial judge to take under advisement a motion for directed verdict without actually granting or denying it at the trial. The power of the court to grant a directed verdict on post-trial motion, either following a verdict or in event of a mistrial because of disagreement of the jury, has long been recognized in Tennessee. This Rule, however, does permit the filing of a post-trial motion for directed verdict without its being incorporated into a motion for a new trial although the latter is still permitted.

50.05: This Rule eliminates the previous requirement that a party against whom a verdict has been directed must file a motion for a new trial in order to obtain appellate review of the action of the court in directing the verdict. The former rule was technical in the extreme, especially when the directed verdict came on post-trial motion of the defendant; in such cases, if the plaintiff failed to make a subsequent motion for new trial, he or she could not obtain review of the action of the trial court. See Howell v. Wallace E. Johnson, Inc., 42Tenn. App. 15, 298 S.W.2d 753 (1956).

The action of a trial court in directing a verdict, of course, is not the action of the jury. Previous procedure has not required a motion for a new trial in nonjury proceedings. Tenn. Code Ann. § 27-303 et seq. [repealed]. This Rule seems to the Committee therefore to be consistent with the previous rules in nonjury proceedings.

Advisory Commission Comments [1998].

Adding the sentence in Rule 50.01 concerning reservation of a ruling was thought necessary in light ofTennessee’s adoption of comparative fault.

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