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Law School Case Brief

Raess v. Doescher - 883 N.E.2d 790 (Ind. 2008)

Rule:

A motion for judgment on the evidence should be granted only when there is a complete failure of proof because there is no substantial evidence or reasonable inference supporting an essential element of the claim. Upon appellate review of a trial court ruling on such a motion, the reviewing court must consider only the evidence and reasonable inferences most favorable to the nonmoving party.

Facts:

Plaintiff perfusionist sued defendant surgeon, seeking damages arising from an alleged assault. The surgeon argued that there was no evidence to support liability for assault and that the verdict was unsupported or excessive. The trial court entered summary judgment for the surgeon on a claim for intentional interference with the employment relationship. A jury then returned a defense verdict on an intentional infliction of emotional distress count, but awarded the perfusionist $325,000 for assault. On appeal, the judgment was reversed. The perfusionist appealed.

Issue:

Was there sufficient evidence supporting the award of damages in favor of the plaintiff on the assault charge, even in light of a defense verdict on plaintiff's claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The Supreme Court of Indiana found that there was not a complete failure of proof. Compensatory damages for the assault were not precluded by the defeat of the counts for intentional infliction of emotional distress and intentional interference with the employment relationship. The court held that there was evidence supporting the damages award.

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