Tuesday, November 01, 2005

SCOTUS to Hear Oral Argument Tomorrow in Case Addressing FRCP Rule 50 Issue

Cornell's Legal Information Institute (LII) reports:

Unitherm Food Systems v. Swift Eckrich (04-597)
Oral argument date: November 2, 2005

Rule 50(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure empowers a judge to determine an issue herself, rather than submitting it to the jury, when the evidence is insufficient for a reasonable jury to conclude to the contrary. When the judge's determination of the particular issue makes it impossible for the losing party to prevail in its overall claim or defense, the judge will enter a "judgment as a matter of law" against the party. Because such a judgment deprives the losing party of its constitutional right to a jury trial, the rules governing the exercise of Rule 50(a) power are very important. This case addresses a significant question about these rules: may a court of appeal review the sufficiency of evidence presented at trial, when a party loses a
pre-verdict motion for judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50(a), but then fails to renew the motion under Rule 50(b) after the jury has reached a verdict? The Supreme Court's resolution will greatly impact the speed and quality of review of trial court decisions by courts of appeal, as well as the power these courts possess to overturn improper verdicts.

Get a full summary of the case and the issues at http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/cert/04-597.html.


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