Monday, December 8, 2014

Motions

Distinguishing between a variety of motions is sure to be required for those answering civil procedure questions on the MBE. Below are five important motions made during trial to keep in mind and the distinguishing characteristics among them:

Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings: This motion may be granted if on the face of the pleadings (but without considering matters outside of the pleadings) the court determines that the moving party is entitled to judgment.

Judgment as a Matter of Law: This motion was formerly known as a motion for a directed verdict. Granting this motion is allowable for either party if the evidence is such that reasonable people could not disagree in favor of the moving party. The evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. If one is to later make a renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law, one must first make this particular motion.

Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law: This motion was formerly known as a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict ("JNOV"). The motion is filed after judgment but not later than 28 days after entry of the judgment. The motion should be granted if the verdict returned could not have been reached by reasonable persons. A party is generally limited to those issues raised in the motion for judgment as a matter of law.

Motion for a New Trial: As with the renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law, this motion is filed after judgment but not later than 28 days after judgment. The court has the discretion to grant a new trial because of an error during trial, or because the verdict is against the weight of the evidence. Occasionally, the court will issue a new trial if the verdict is excessive, though another option is to offer the plaintiff remittitur, which allows plaintiff to choose between a lesser award or a new trial.

Motion for Summary Judgment: Summary judgment shall be granted if, from the pleadings, affidavits, and discovery material on file, it appears that no genuine issue of material fact exists and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. This motion is very similar to the a motion for judgment on the pleadings, though more material is considered here in determining whether to grant the motion. A party may file a motion for summary judgment at any time until 30 days after close of discovery.

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