A judgment notwithstanding the verdict is a procedural device for a trial court to modify jury findings to correct erroneous verdicts. A judgment notwithstanding the verdict is also known as a JNOV, an abbreviation for judgment non obstante veredicto. Under common law, a motion for a JNOV had to be made after the return of a verdict by the jury and before the entry in judgment. The rules for filing and granting a JNOV in federal courts were codified by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which have since been amended to replace “judgment notwithstanding the verdict” with “judgment as a matter of law.” Despite this change, the standard for granting the motion remain the same.
The current rule describing the procedure once known as judgment notwithstanding the verdict is Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(b):
Renewing the Motion After Trial; Alternative Motion for a New Trial
If the court does not grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law made under Rule 50(a), the court is considered to have submitted the action to the jury subject to the court's later deciding the legal questions raised by the motion. No later than 28 days after the entry of judgment—or if the motion addresses a jury issue not decided by a verdict, no later than 28 days after the jury was discharged—the movant may file a renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law and may include an alternative or joint request for a new trial under Rule 59. In ruling on the renewed motion, the court may:
- allow judgment on the verdict, if the jury returned a verdict;
- order a new trial; or
- direct the entry of judgment as a matter of law.
[Last updated in June of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]