Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50
Go to Rule 50 Essential Points
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.
(1) In General. 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) resolve the issue against the party; and
(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.
(2) Motion. 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 movant to the judgment.
(b) RENEWING THE MOTION AFTER TRIAL; ALTERNATIVE MOTION FOR A NEW TRIAL. If the court does not grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law made under Rule 50(a), the court is considered to have submitted the action to the jury subject to the court’s later deciding the legal questions raised by the motion. No later than 28 days after the 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 movant 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:
(1) allow judgment on the verdict, if the jury returned a verdict;
(2) order a new trial; or
(3) direct the entry of judgment as a matter of law.
(c) GRANTING THE RENEWED MOTION; CONDITIONAL RULING ON MOTION FOR A NEW TRIAL.
(1) In General. 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.
(2) Effect of a Conditional Ruling. 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 A 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 the entry of the judgment.
(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 should the appellate court conclude 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.
- Similar to a Rule 56 motion of summary judgment, but brought at a different stage, Rule 50 allows a party to move for judgment as a matter of law after one side has been heard on an issue at trial. The moving party is asking the judge to find in its favor. Normally a jury decides the case, but Rule 50 empowers the judge to rule on the case (or at least one aspect of the case) instead.
- Let’s say the evidence in a case (or at least on one issue or claim in the case) clearly favors one party. Instead of submitting the case (or that claim) to a jury, Rule 50(a) allows that party to move for judgment as a matter of law. The party will argue that no reasonable jury could possibly find for its adversary, therefore, there is no need for the jury to deliberate. If the judge grants the motion, the jury will not hear the case or that particular issue because the judge will rule in favor of one party.
- But let’s say the judge denies the motion. Rule 50(b) allows a party after the jury verdict to renew its motion for judgment as a matter of law. The party is arguing that no reasonable jury could have reached the verdict that the jury just reached. The moving party can also ask for a new trial.
Video on judgment as a matter of law: