Trial-Related Issues (Including Motions in Limine)

Directed Verdict

Except as indicated, all indented material is copied directly from the court’s opinion. 

Decisions of the Tennessee Supreme Court


Johnson v. Tennessee Farmers Mut. Ins. Co., 205 S.W.3d 365, 370 (Tenn. 2006).

In reviewing the trial court’s decision to deny a motion for a directed verdict, an appellate court must take the strongest legitimate view of the evidence in favor of the non-moving party, construing all evidence in that party’s favor and disregarding all countervailing evidence. Gaston v. Tenn. Farmers Mut. Ins. Co., 120 S.W.3d 815, 819 (Tenn.2003). A motion for a directed verdict should not be granted unless reasonable minds could reach only one conclusion from the evidence. Id. The standard of review applicable to a motion for a directed verdict does not permit an appellate court to weigh the evidence. Cecil v. Hardin, 575 S.W.2d 268, 270 (Tenn.1978). Moreover, in reviewing the trial court’s denial of a motion for a directed verdict, an appellate court must not evaluate the credibility of witnesses. Benson v. Tenn. Valley Elec. Coop., 868 S.W.2d 630, 638–39 (Tenn.Ct.App.1993). Accordingly, if material evidence is in dispute or doubt exists as to the conclusions to be drawn from that evidence, the motion must be denied. Hurley v. Tenn. Farmers Mut. Ins. Co., 922 S.W.2d 887, 891 (Tenn.Ct.App.1995).


Decisions of the Tennessee Court of Appeals

State ex rel Westerman v. Mathes, No. M2022-00611-COA-R3-CV, p. 11 (Tenn. Ct. App. May 3, 2023). 

The question presented by a Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 50 motion for a directed verdict is whether the party with the burden of proof “has presented sufficient evidence to create an issue of fact for the jury to decide.” Burton v. Warren Farmers Co- op., 129 S.W.3d 513, 520 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2002) (citation omitted). When considering a motion for a directed verdict, the trial court “must take the strongest legitimate view of the evidence and accept all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party.” Brown v. Crown Equip. Corp., 181 S.W.3d 268, 281 (Tenn. 2005) (citation omitted). A directed verdict is appropriate only if “the evidence is susceptible to only one conclusion[]” and “reasonable minds could not differ as to the conclusions to be drawn from the evidence.” Id. If there is any doubt regarding conclusions that might be reached from the evidence, the question is one for the jury. Burton, 129 S.W.3d at 520 (citation omitted). We review a trial court’s decision to grant a directed verdict de novo, with no presumption of correctness. Brown, 181 S.W.3d at 281. We must apply the same standards as the trial court and will affirm the court’s judgment only if the evidence supports only one conclusion. Id.

Estrada v. DJ Exteriors, LLC, No. M2022-01052-COA-R3-CV, p. 4 (Tenn. Ct. App. Mar. 10, 2023). 

“In reviewing a motion for a directed verdict, courts must take the strongest legitimate view of the evidence against the directed verdict and must deny the motion in any case where all reasonable persons would not reach the same conclusion.” Id. (citing Smith v. Inman Realty Co., 846 S.W.2d 819 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1992)). “Only if there is no material evidence in the record that would support a verdict for the plaintiff under any of the plaintiff’s theories, may the trial court’s action in directing a verdict be sustained.” Id. (citing Jamestowne on Signal, Inc. v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass’n, 807 S.W.2d 559 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1990)).



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