MOTION FOR A DIRECTED VERDICT AND FOR JUDGMENT NOTWITHSTANDING THE VERDICT
(a) Motion for Directed Verdict: When Made: Effect. When upon a trial the case presents only questions of law the judge may direct a verdict. 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. A motion for a directed verdict shall state the specific grounds therefor. The order of the court granting a motion for a directed verdict is effective without any assent of the jury.
(b) Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict. 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. 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 his motion for a directed verdict; or if a verdict was not returned, such party may move for judgment in accordance with his 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.
(c) Same: Conditional Rulings on Grant of Motion.
(1) If the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, provided for in subdivision (b) of this rule, is granted, the court shall also rule on 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 shall proceed unless the appellate court has otherwise ordered. In case the motion for a new trial has been conditionally denied, the respondent 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.
(2) The party whose verdict has been set aside on motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict may promptly after notice of the judgment serve a motion for a new trial pursuant to Rule 59.
(d) Same: Denial of Motion. If the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict is denied, the party who prevailed on that motion may, on appeal, assert grounds entitling him to a new trial in the event the appellate court concludes that the trial court erred in denying the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. If the appellate court reverses the judgment, nothing in this rule precludes it from determining that a party is entitled to a new trial, or from directing the trial court to determine whether a new trial shall be granted.
(e) Time for Motion; Appeal; End of Term. The motion for judgment n.o.v. shall be made promptly after the jury is discharged, or in the discretion of the court not later than 10 days thereafter. The time for appeal for all parties shall be stayed by a timely motion for judgment n.o.v. and shall run from the receipt of written notice of entry of the order granting or denying such motion. The time within which to make the motion shall not be affected by the ending of a term of court or departure of the judge from the circuit, and the trial judge shall retain jurisdiction of the action for the purpose of hearing and disposing of such motion if not heard and disposed during the term. Except by consent of the parties, argument on the motion shall be heard in the circuit where the trial was held. The motion may in the discretion of the court be determined on briefs filed by the parties without oral argument.
(f) Judge to be Provided with Copy. A party filing a written motion under this rule shall provide a copy of the motion to the judge within ten (10) days after the filing of the motion.
This Rule 50 conforms to the Federal Rule, and to present State practice, with four stated changes.
1. The language of Code § 15-33-10 is added as the first sentence to Rule 50(a).
2. The motion for directed verdict may be made at the close of plaintiff's evidence, as well as at the close of all the evidence. This is an alternative to the present motion for involuntary dismissal (non-suit) which is also available.
3. The motion for judgment n.o.v. and for a new trial may be made in the alternative, which is also familiar to State practice.
4. The only substantive change in State procedure is that the parties may be allowed up to ten (10) days to file the motions, and the end of a term of court does not deprive the trial judge of jurisdiction to hear and determine them. Rule 50(e) is added for this purpose. This does not preclude the motions being made in open court, which will continue to be the practice in most cases, but the grounds for the motion and the ruling must be stated in writing or entered on the record to assist the appellate court in its decision in event of appeal.
Note to 1986 Amendment:
Post-trial motions are made promptly at the end of the trial, or at that time the court, upon motion, may grant an additional ten days to make them. The amendment to Rule 50(e) provides that the time for appeal commences upon the receipt of written notice of entry of the order disposing of post-trial motions, rather than the date when the order is signed by the court. Similar changes are made in Rules 52 and 59.
Note to 1998 Amendment:
This amendment adds Rule 50(f). It is intended to help insure that the judge is promptly notified that the motion has been filed.