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JOHNSON V. NEW YORK, N.H. & H. R. CO., 344 U. S. 48 (1952)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Johnson v. New York, N.H. & H. R. Co., 344 U.S. 48 (1952)

Johnson v. New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Co.

No. 40

Argued October 23-24, 1952

Decided November 17, 1952

344 U.S. 48


At the close of the evidence in a suit in a federal district court under the Jones Act for wrongful death, defendant moved to dismiss the complaint and for a directed verdict in its favor. The court reserved decision on the motion and submitted the case to the jury. A verdict was returned for plaintiff, and judgment was entered thereon. Within ten days after reception of the verdict, defendant moved to have it set aside, but did not move for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The court denied plaintiff's motion to set aside the verdict and denied the pre-verdict motions for dismissal and for a directed verdict. On appeal, the Court of Appeals held that the motion for a directed verdict should have been granted, and reversed the judgment of the district court.

Held: Under Rule 50(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court of Appeals could not direct entry of a judgment for defendant notwithstanding the verdict. Pp. 344 U. S. 49-54.

(a) In the absence of a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict made in the trial court within ten days after reception of the verdict, Rule 50(b) forbids the trial judge or an appellate court to enter such a judgment. P. 344 U. S. 50.

(b) Defendant's motion to set aside the verdict cannot be treated as a motion to enter judgment notwithstanding the verdict. Pp. 344 U. S. 50-51 .

(c) The trial judge's express reservation of decision on the motion for a directed verdict did not relieve defendant from the duty under Rule 50(b) to make a motion after the verdict for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. Pp. 344 U. S. 51-54.

(d) Defendant is entitled only to a new trial, not to a judgment in its favor. P. 344 U. S. 54.

194 F.2d 194, judgment vacated and cause remanded.

In a suit under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. § 688, for wrongful death, the District Court rendered judgment for the plaintiff. The Court of Appeals reversed. 194 F.2d chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 344 U. S. 49

194. This Court granted certiorari. 343 U.S. 975. Judgment vacated and cause remanded, p. 344 U. S. 54.

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