Denman v. Spain

242 Miss. 431, 135 So. 2d 195 (1961)



The Supreme Court of Mississippi has many times held that verdicts cannot be based on possibilities. 


A minor, by her mother and next friend, sued executrix of the estate of a deceased, to recover damages for personal injurie, allegedly resulting from the negligence of the decedent in the operation of an automobile. The issue was submitted to a jury on the evidence of the plaintiff -- no evidence being offered for the defendant -- and there was a verdict and judgment for the plaintiff in the sum of $ 5,000. However, on motion of the defendant, a judgment non obstante veredicto, that is, notwithstanding the verdict, was sustained and entered. From that action, the plaintiff has appealed.


Did the trial correct correctly grant judgment notwithstanding the verdict in Defendant’s favor?




The Court determined that despite the jury’s finding, a reasonable jury could not come up with the same conclusion. The court held that the trial court did not err in entering judgment notwithstanding the verdict for the executrix because there was no sound or reasonable basis upon which a jury or the court could say that the minor met her burden of proof. The driver's testimony showed only that the deceased's car was being operated at an excessive and negligent rate of speed. It otherwise showed that the decedent's car was in its proper lane. The cars were so badly damaged that the pictures afforded no reasonable explanation as to what person or persons were legally responsible for their condition. Although by speculation and conjecture, several conclusions could be reached as to how the accident occurred, a verdict could not be based on possibilities.

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