Advisory Committee Notes
The 2016 amendments adopt the plain-language style of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50. We also borrow heavily from the 1991 federal Advisory Committee Note, which explains the changes and the reasoning behind them:
The revision abandons the familiar terminology of “direction of verdict” for several reasons. The term is misleading as a description of the relationship between judge and jury. It is also freighted with anachronisms some of which are the subject of the text of former subdivision (a) of this rule that is deleted in this revision. Thus, it should not be necessary to state in the text of this rule that a motion made pursuant to it is not a waiver of the right to jury trial, and only the antiquities of directed verdict practice suggest that it might have been. The term “judgment as a matter of law” is an almost equally familiar term and appears in the text of Rule 56; its use in Rule 50 calls attention to the relationship between the two rules. Finally, the change enables the rule to refer to preverdict and post-trial motions with a terminology that does not conceal the common identity of two motions made at different times in the proceeding.
Paragraph (a)(1) articulates the standard for the granting of a motion for judgment as a matter of law. It effects no change in the existing standard. …. The expressed standard makes clear that action taken under the rule is a performance of the court’s duty to assure enforcement of the controlling law and is not an intrusion on any responsibility for factual determinations conferred on the jury …. Because this standard is also used as a reference point for entry of summary judgment under 56(a), it serves to link the two related provisions.
The revision authorizes the court to perform its duty to enter judgment as a matter of law at any time during the trial, as soon as it is apparent that either party is unable to carry a burden of proof that is essential to that party's case. Thus, the second sentence of paragraph (a)(1) authorizes the court to consider a motion for judgment as a matter of law as soon as a party has completed a presentation on a fact essential to that party's case. Such early action is appropriate when economy and expedition will be served. In no event, however, should the court enter judgment against a party who has not been apprised of the materiality of the dispositive fact and been afforded an opportunity to present any available evidence bearing on that fact. . . .
As in the federal rule, the time for filing the motion has been extended to 28 days after entry of judgment. Finally, in accordance with the 2006 federal amendment, the amended rule removes the technical requirement that the motion be renewed at the close of all the evidence, a requirement that the committee determined was an unnecessary trap for the unwary.