Rule 50. Judgment as a matter of law in a jury trial; related motion for a new trial; conditional ruling.

(a)  Judgment as a matter of law.

(a)(1) 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:

(a)(1)(A) resolve the issue against the party; and

(a)(1)(B) 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.

(a)(2) 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 moving party to the judgment.

(b) Motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. If the court does not grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law made under paragraph (a), the court is considered to have submitted the action to the jury subject to the court later deciding the legal questions raised by the motion. No later than 28 days after 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 moving party 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:

(b)(1) allow judgment on the verdict if the jury returned a verdict;

(b)(2) order a new trial; or

(b)(3) direct the entry of judgment as a matter of law.

(c) Granting the renewed motion; conditional ruling on a motion for new trial.

(c)(1) 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.

(c)(2) 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 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 entry of the judgment as a matter of law.

(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 if the appellate court concludes 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.

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.

 

Effective May 1, 2016