Where no undesirable or pernicious element has occurred or been introduced into the trial and the trial judge nonetheless grants a new trial on the ground that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence, the trial judge in negating the jury's verdict, to some extent at least, substitutes his judgment of the facts and the credibility of the witnesses for that of the jury. Such an action effects a denigration of the jury system and to the extent that new trials are granted the judge takes over, if he does not usurp, the prime function of the jury as the trier of the facts. It then becomes the duty of the appellate court to exercise a closer degree of scrutiny and supervision than is the case where a new trial is granted because of some undesirable or pernicious influence obtruding into the trial. Such a close scrutiny is required in order to protect the litigants' right to jury trial.
Appellant employee sought review of the the district court's judgment for appellee employer after a jury found that appellant employee was entitled to compensation and moving expenses. The court reversed the district court's decision, holding that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's verdict. The court also reversed the district court's order of a new trial in the event that judgment in favor of appellee was reversed.
Was there clear weight of credible evidence showing that a new trial is necessary?
The introduction into evidence of sales records tending to show commissions due to appellant was proper and did not support a grant of a new trial. The subject matter of the litigation was simple and easily comprehended by any intelligent layman, and the district court abused its discretion by substituting its judgment for that of the jury.