directed verdict

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A directed verdict is a ruling entered by a trial judge after determining that there is no legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to reach a different conclusion. 

The trial court may grant a directed verdict either sua sponte or upon a motion by either party.  A directed verdict may be granted at any time, but usually occurs after at least one party has been fully heard. In Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Healthcare, Inc. v. House, 563 S.W.3d 626, the court noted that “there are two types of directed verdicts: (1) ‘the most common type of directed verdict, where the claimant loses because claimant’s proof is inadequate’ and (2) ‘when the claimant’s evidence is overwhelming, and in the analogous situations when the evidence on a defense is either inadequate or overwhelming’.” A trial judge cannot enter a directed verdict unless there is a complete absence of proof on a material issue or if no disputed issues of fact exist upon which reasonable minds could differ.

Motions for a directed verdict are governed by Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Rule 29 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Directed verdicts have been largely replaced by judgment as a matter of law (JMOL)

[Last updated in September of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team