Fred Bommer (plaintiff) sued Jerome Stedelin (defendant) for damage that occurred to Bommer's car while it was parked in a garage. Bommer alleged that Stedelin managed the garage and therefore was liable for the damage. Stedelin moved for a directed verdict on the grounds that Bommer failed to prove that allegation. The trial judge indicated that he would grant the motion after an hour's recess. Bommer asked the judge to reopen the evidence, promising to produce additional proof of Stedelin's management of the garage within an hour. The record did not show any reason why the judge, jury, parties, or witnesses would have been surprised or inconvenienced by an hour's delay. The judge denied Bommer leave to reopen, and after the recess he directed the verdict for Stedelin. Bommer appealed to the St. Louis Court of Appeals.