Weisgram v. Marley Co.
SCOTUS - 2000 (528 U.S. 440)
- P died in a fire at her home. P alleged that a defect in an electric baseboard heater caused the fire and the death.
- P presented evidence of experts at trial to prove this.
- D objected both before and during the trial that the testimony was unreliable and therefore inadmissible under FRE 702 as elucidated by Daubert. Overruled.
- At the close of P's evidence and again at the end of trial, D unsuccessfully moved for judgment as a matter of law under FRCP 50.
- After verdict, D requested judgment as a matter of law or a new trial (FRCP 50 and 59). Both were denied.
- District Court found for P.
- 8th Circuit COA reversed, threw out expert testimony, directed judgment as a matter of law for D.
- SCOTUS affirmed, directed judgment as a matter of law for D was valid.
- Does FRCP 50 permit an appellate court to direct the entry of judgment as a matter of law when it determines that evidence was erroneously admitted at trial, and that the remaining, properly admitted evidence is insufficient to constitute a submissible case?
- FRCP 50 permits an appellate court to direct the entry of judgment as a matter of law when it determines that evidence was erroneously admitted at trial, and that the remaining, properly admitted evidence is insufficient to constitute a submissible case.
- If a court of appeals determines that the district court erroneously denied a motion for judgment as a matter of law, the appellate court may…
- Order a new trial at the verdict winner's request or on its own motion.
- Remand the case for the trial court to decide whether a new trial or entry of judgment for the D is warranted.
- Direct the entry of judgment as a matter of law for the D.
- FRCP 50 allows the trial court to remove cases or issues from the jury's consideration when the facts are sufficiently clear that the law requires a particular result.
- A trial court, pursuant to Rule 50(b) could enter judgment for the verdict loser without offense to the Seventh Amendment. There is no greater restriction on the province of the jury when an appellate court enters judgment n.o.v. than when a trial court does.
- Since Daubert, parties relying on expert evidence have had notice of the exacting standards of reliability such evidence must meet. It is implausible to suggest, post-Daubert, that parties will initially present less than their best expert evidence in the expectation of a second chance should their first try fail.
- P was on notice every step of the way that D was challenging his experts, P made no attempt to add or substitute other evidence.
- Present your best case at trial in case some of your evidence gets thrown out!