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Montgomery Ward & Co. v. Duncan

United States Supreme Court
311 U.S. 243 (1940)


Duncan (plaintiff) filed suit against Montgomery Ward & Co. (Montgomery) (defendant) for negligence. After all evidence had been presented, Montgomery filed a motion for a directed verdict. The trial court refused to enter a directed verdict, and the jury rendered a verdict for Duncan. After judgment was entered, Montgomery filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (j.n.o.v.) or “a new trial in the alternative.” The motion expressly stated that the request for a new trial was conditioned on the court’s refusal to enter a j.n.o.v. The court determined that there was insufficient evidence to support the verdict and entered judgment in favor of Montgomery. Duncan moved the court for a formal denial of Montgomery’s motion for a new trial, but the court did not provide one. Duncan appealed, and the court of appeals reversed and remanded the case, directing the trial court to enter final judgment for the plaintiff. In so doing, the court of appeals refused to remand the case and allow Montgomery’s motion for a new trial to be considered because the motion was conditioned on a denial of the j.n.o.v. Montgomery petitioned the United States Supreme Court for certiorari, which was granted.

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