Standards of Review: Published decision addresses motions for JNOV and Directed Verdict (Moloney vs. Becker, COA, PUB, 4/19/2013)

Here is another decision by the Court of Appeals addressing the standard of review of a motion for directed verdict or JNOV, but this time it is in a published decision.  Although the law is the law, a decision that has been “published” carries more weight than those that have not been published.

ESTATE OF MABEL C. MOLONEY VS. BECKER
OPINION AFFIRMING
VANMETER (PRESIDING JUDGE)
NICKELL (CONCURS) AND TAYLOR (CONCURS)
2011-CA-001773-MR
TO BE PUBLISHED 4/19/2013
BRACKEN

VANMETER, JUDGE: The Estate of Mabel C. Moloney (“Estate”) appeals from the Bracken Circuit Court judgment, as well as its order denying the Estate’s motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), resulting in the dismissal of its complaint alleging negligence against John Becker. For the following reasons, we affirm. ***

On appeal, the Estate argues the trial court erred by denying its motions for a directed verdict and JNOV because the evidence demonstrated that John engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, prohibited by KRS1 524.130, and thus, he was negligent per se. We disagree.

The standard of review regarding a motion for a directed verdict or JNOV has been described as a difficult one for an appellant to meet. Peters v. Wooten, 297 S.W.3d 55, 65 (Ky. App. 2009). Our court in Taylor v. Kennedy, 700 S.W.2d 415 (Ky. App. 1985) described it as follows:

In ruling on either a motion for a directed verdict or a motion for a [JNOV], a trial court is under a duty to consider the evidence in the strongest possible light in favor of the party opposing the motion. Furthermore, it is required to give the opposing party the advantage of every fair and reasonable inference which can be drawn from the evidence. And, it is precluded from entering either a directed verdict or [JNOV] unless there is a complete absence of proof on a material issue in the action, or if no disputed issue of fact exists upon which reasonable men could differ.

Id. at 416 (citation omitted). We may not disturb the ruling unless the decision is clearly erroneous. Peters, 297 S.W.3d at 65 (citation omitted). As such, a denial of a directed verdict or JNOV “should only be reversed on appeal when it is shown that the verdict was palpably or flagrantly against the evidence such that it indicates the jury reached the verdict as a result of passion or prejudice.” Id. (citation omitted).

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