When presented with a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, the trial court cannot weigh the evidence, or judge the credibility of witnesses. If the evidence is conflicting or if several reasonable inferences may be drawn, the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict should be denied. A motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict of a jury may properly be granted only if it appears from the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the party securing the verdict, that there is no substantial evidence to support the verdict. If there is any substantial evidence, or reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom in support of the verdict, the motion should be denied. The same standard of review applies to the appellate court in reviewing the trial court's granting of the motion. Accordingly, the evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, resolving all conflicts and drawing all inferences in favor of that verdict.
In 1983, the plaintiff, Michael Osborn, contracted the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) from a blood transfusion conducted in connection with his heart surgery at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center; the blood was supplied by Irwin Memorial Blood Bank. Michael, together with his parents, sued the University and Irwin for damages on various torts and contract claims. The trial court dismissed all the claims against the University through a grant of nonsuit or directed verdict and the only causes of action that survived in the trial court were the claims against Irwin on the grounds of negligence, and intentional and negligent misrepresentation. The jury returned a general verdict for the plaintiffs, and thereafter, Irwin has filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict on the intentional misrepresentation and negligence claims, which the trial court granted. The trial court, however, granted judgment in favor of the defendant with negligent misrepresentation.
Was the defendant, Irwin, entitled to judgment notwithstanding the verdict on the issue of negligence and intentional misrepresentation?
The Court held that the defendant cannot be found negligent because it was only following the accepted practices of the profession at the time. Furthermore, the Court reversed the trial court’s decision on negligent misrepresentation claim because it was decided upon by the trial court without taking into consideration Michael Osborn’s rare blood type which was relevant to show proximate cause on whether there was substantial evidence that direct donation would have prevented the contraction of the AIDS virus.