Upchurch v. Rotenberry

761 So. 2d 199 (Miss. 2000)



Where the trial judge has refused to grant a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, an appellate court examines all of the evidence--not just evidence which supports the non-movant's case--in the light most favorable to the party opposed to the motion. All credible evidence tending to support the non-movant's case and all favorable inferences reasonably drawn therefrom are accepted as true and redound to the benefit of the non-mover. If the facts and inferences so considered point so overwhelmingly in favor of the movant that reasonable men could not have arrived at a contrary verdict, the motion should be granted. On the other hand, if there is substantial evidence opposed to the motion, that is, evidence of such quality and weight that reasonable and fairminded men in the exercise of impartial judgment might reach different conclusions, the jury verdict should be allowed to stand and the motion denied, and, if it has been so denied, the court has no authority to reverse.


Two friends were riding in a car when they got into an accident. An animal darted in front of her vehicle. In an effort to avoid the animal, she lost control of the vehicle and struck a tree. The passenger was killed in the accident. The passenger's mother brought a personal injury action against the driver and her father, alleging that she was speeding, driving recklessly, and intoxicated. She further alleged that the father of the driver negligently entrusted the vehicle to his daughter while under the influence of an intoxicating liquor. The trial court found for the driver and on appeal and denied the mother's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or for a new trial in appellant's personal injury action. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed. 


Were the actions of the court proper?




The trial court did not err in denying appellant's motion for judgement notwithstanding the verdict. Because conflicting evidence was given as to what happened on the night of the accident, it was reasonable for the jury to believe appellee's testimony, that an animal darted in front of her vehicle, and when she swerved to avoid the animal, she lost control and the vehicle struck a tree. Because the jury finding was not contrary to the overwhelming weight of the evidence, the trial court did not err in denying appellant's motion for new trial.

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