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Law School Case Brief

Stewart v. Merchs. Nat'l Bank - 700 So. 2d 255 (Miss. 1997)


The standard of review applicable on motion to dismiss under Miss. R. Civ. P. 41(b) is different than that applicable to a motion for a directed verdict. In considering a motion to dismiss, the judge considers the evidence fairly, as distinguished from in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and the judge dismisses the case if it finds for the defendant. The court must deny a motion to dismiss only if the judge is obliged to find for the plaintiff if the plaintiff's evidence is all the evidence offered in the case. The court applies the substantial evidence/manifest error standards to an appeal of a grant or denial of a motion to dismiss pursuant to Miss. R. Civ. P. 41(b).


Plaintiff debtors brought an action against defendant bank, claiming damages for the bank's failure to foreclose on certain property in accordance with an agreed order of dismissal in earlier litigation. The trial court dismissed the complaint, but it was reversed on appeal. Defendant bank sought further appellaate review of the judgment of reversal.


Was there sufficient evidence showing that the defendant bank was not liable for damages to plaintiff debtors?




The Supreme Court of Mississippi reversed the judgment of the appellate court and reinstated the judgment of the trial court that dismissed the debtors' complaint filed in regard to a foreclosure sale. It sustained a motion to dismiss, under which it considered the evidence fairly and not in the light most favorable to the bank. Under this standard, the court ruled that a fair reading of the evidence supported a finding that the bank was not liable to the debtors in damages.

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