Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps

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A judgment entered by the court in favor of one party even though the jury returned a verdict for the opposing party.

The phrase "judgment notwithstanding the verdict" is abbreviated JNOV, which stands for its Latin equivalent, judgment "non obstante veredicto." The remedy of JNOV applies only in cases decided by a jury. Originally this remedy could be entered only in favor of the plaintiff, and the similar remedy of arrest of judgment could be entered only in favor of the defendant. Under modern law a JNOV is generally available to both plaintiffs and defendants, and an arrest of judgment is primarily used with judgments in criminal cases. A JNOV is proper when the court finds that the party bearing the BURDEN OF PROOF fails to make out a PRIMA FACIE case (a case that on first appearance will prevail unless contradicted by evidence).

To be granted relief by a JNOV, a party must make a motion seeking that relief. The motion generally must be made in writing and must set forth the specific reasons entitling the party to

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relief. Many statutes and rules require that the moving party must have previously sought a directed verdict, and that the grounds for the JNOV motion be the same or nearly the same as those for the directed verdict. A directed verdict is a request by a party that the judge enter a verdict in that party's behalf before the case is submitted to the jury.

Although a jury generally must return a verdict before a motion for JNOV can be made, if the jury does not agree on a verdict, as in a jury deadlocked, some courts will hear a motion for JNOV. However, some statutes do not permit a court to hear a motion for JNOV under such circumstances.

In deciding a motion for JNOV, the court is facing questions only of law, not fact. The court must consider only the evidence and any inferences therefrom, and must do so in the light most advantageous to the nonmoving party. The court must resolve any conflicts in favor of the party resisting the motion. If there is enough evidence to make out a prima facie case against the moving party, or evidence tending to support the verdict, then the court must deny the motion for JNOV. Some courts maintain that if there is a conflict of evidence, such that the jury could decide either way based on factors such as the credibility of witnesses, the court should deny the motion. Courts approach motions for JNOV with extreme caution and generally will grant them...

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