Anderson v. New Orleans Public Service, Inc – Case Brief Summary (Louisiana)

In Anderson v. New Orleans Public Service, Inc., 583 So. 2d 829, 832 (La. 1991), the Louisiana Supreme Court reiterated the criteria first set forth in Scott v. Hospital Service District No. 1, 496 So. 2d 270 (La. 1986), to be used in determining whether a JNOV has been properly granted pursuant to LSA-C.C.P. art. 1811:

A JNOV is warranted when the facts and inferences point so strongly and overwhelmingly in favor of one party that the court believes that reasonable men could not arrive at a contrary verdict. The motion should be granted only when the evidence points so strongly in favor of the moving party that reasonable men could not reach different conclusions, not merely when there is a preponderance of evidence for the mover. If there is evidence opposed to the motion which is of such quality and weight that reasonable and fair-minded men in the exercise of impartial judgment might reach different conclusions, the motion should be denied. In making this determination, the court should not evaluate the credibility of the witnesses, and all reasonable inferences or factual questions should be resolved in favor of the non-moving party.

In reviewing a JNOV, the appellate court must first determine if the trial court erred in granting the JNOV. This is done by using the aforementioned criteria just as the trial judge does in deciding whether to grant the motion or not, i.e. do the facts and inferences point so strongly and overwhelmingly in favor of the moving party that reasonable men could not arrive at a contrary verdict? If the answer to that question is in the affirmative, then the trial judge was correct in granting the motion. If, however, reasonable men in the exercise of impartial judgment might reach a different conclusion, then it was error to grant the motion and the jury verdict should be reinstated. Smith v. Davill Petroleum Co., Inc., 97-1596, p. 4 (La. App. 1st Cir. 12/09/98) 744 So. 2d 23, 26-27.

A JNOV is warranted when the facts and inferences point so strongly and overwhelmingly in favor of one party that the court concludes that reasonable men could not arrive at a contrary verdict.

The motion should be granted only when the evidence points so strongly in favor of the party seeking the JNOV that reasonable men could not reach different conclusions. The JNOV should not be granted merely when there is a preponderance of evidence for the mover. If the opposing evidence is of such quality and weight that reasonable men in the exercise of impartial judgment might reach different conclusions, the motion should be denied.

In making this determination, the trial court should not evaluate the credibility of the witnesses, and all reasonable inferences or factual questions should be resolved in favor of the non-moving party. In reviewing a JNOV, the appellate court must determine if the trial court erred in granting the JNOV by using the aforementioned criteria just as the trial judge does in deciding whether to grant the motion or not, i.e. do the facts and inferences point so strongly and overwhelmingly in favor of the moving party that reasonable men could not arrive at a contrary verdict? If the answer to that question is in the affirmative, then the trial judge was correct in granting the motion. If, however, reasonable men in the exercise of impartial judgment might reach a different conclusion, then it was error to grant the motion and the jury verdict should be reinstated.

The court stated:

A JNOV is warranted when the facts and inferences point so strongly and overwhelmingly in favor of one party that the court believes that reasonable men could not arrive at a contrary verdict. The motion should be granted only when the evidence points so strongly in favor of the moving party that reasonable men could not reach different conclusions, not merely when there is a preponderance of evidence for the mover. If there is evidence opposed to the motion which is of such quality and weight that reasonable and fairminded men in the exercise of impartial judgment might reach different conclusions, the motion should be denied. Scott, supra. In making this determination, the court should not evaluate the credibility of the witnesses, and all reasonable inferences or factual questions should be resolved in favor of the non-moving party. Id. at 832.

Upon review of a JNOV, the appellate court uses the same criteria as that before the trial court. The reviewing court considers whether the record indicates that reasonable men could not arrive at a verdict contrary to the result urged by the moving party. If the court concludes that reasonable men could arrive at a contrary conclusion, the motion for JNOV was erroneously granted. In such an event, the jury verdict must be reinstated. Id.