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Law School Case Brief

Toles v. Toles - 45 S.W.3d 252 (Tex. App. 2001)

Rule:

A trial judge may properly grant a judgment notwithstanding the verdict when there is no evidence to support one or more of the jury's findings of fact necessary to the judgment. To uphold a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, the appellate court must determine that no evidence supports the jury's findings. Thus, it must determine whether there is any evidence upon which the jury could have made a necessary finding of fact. In conducting this review, it reviews the record in the light most favorable to the finding of fact, considering only the evidence and inferences from the evidence that support the finding and rejecting the evidence and inferences that do not. Where there is more than a mere scintilla of competent evidence to support a jury's finding of necessary facts, the JNOV will be reversed. More than a scintilla of evidence exists if the record reveals some probative evidence to support the verdict, no matter how small.

Facts:

Plaintiff husband, Edward, filed for divorce, and his wife, defendant Lougay, filed a counter-petition alleged intentional infliction of emotional distress and assault and battery. The case was bifurcated, and the tort claims were tried to a jury, which returned a verdict for Lougay on the intentional infliction claim. The trial court granted Edward's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict(JNOV.) After a bench trial on the divorce issues, the trial court ordered defendant Lougay to pay a sum to plaintiff Edward as sanctions for her unspecified misconduct. Lougay appealed

Issue:

Did the trial court err in granting the husband a JNOV on the wife's counterclaim for intentional infliction of emotional distress?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The JNOV was improper, as the evidence had been legally and factually sufficient to allow the jury to conclude that: (1) husband acted intentionally or recklessly, (2) his conduct was extreme and outrageous, and (3) his conduct caused wife severe emotional distress. It rejected husband's contention that if the JNOV was reversed the property division should be set aside.

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