909 F.2d 743 (3rd Cir. 1990), 90-5031, Keith v. Truck Stops Corp. of America

Docket Nº:90-5031.
Citation:909 F.2d 743
Party Name:Jerry KEITH and Connie Keith v. TRUCK STOPS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, John Doe or John Doe Inc. Appeal of TRUCKSTOPS OF AMERICA CORPORATION.
Case Date:July 24, 1990
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
 
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Page 743

909 F.2d 743 (3rd Cir. 1990)

Jerry KEITH and Connie Keith

v.

TRUCK STOPS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, John Doe or John Doe Inc.

Appeal of TRUCKSTOPS OF AMERICA CORPORATION.

No. 90-5031.

Submitted Under Third Circuit Rule 12(6)

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

July 24, 1990

May 30, 1990.

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Stuart M. Goldstein, Clark, Ladner, Fortenbaugh & Young, Haddonfield, N.J., for appellant.

John P. Hogan, Michael P. Carroll, Hogan & Traynor, Morristown, N.J., for appellees.

Before HUTCHINSON, COWEN and SEITZ, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

SEITZ, Circuit Judge.

This appeal is from post-judgment orders in a diversity action governed by New Jersey law. Plaintiffs Jerry and Connie Keith prevailed before a jury which found that negligence on the part of defendant, Truckstops of America, caused injury to Jerry Keith. The orders denied defendant's motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict and granted plaintiffs' motion to amend the judgment to include prejudgment interest. Truckstops appeals both orders.

I.

Defendant argues that the district court erred in not granting its motion for a directed verdict in the first instance and its subsequent motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

As a preliminary matter, we note that the record in this case does not disclose that defendant made a directed verdict motion at the close of all the evidence, a prerequisite to our consideration of the issue of the sufficiency of the evidence. See Mallick v. International Bhd. of Elec. Workers, 644 F.2d 228 (3d Cir.1981); Follette v. National Tea Co., 460 F.2d 254 (3d Cir.1972); Gebhardt v. Wilson Freight Forwarding Co., 348 F.2d 129 (3d Cir.1965); Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b). However, defendant's counsel submitted an affidavit, in response to inquiries by this court, asserting that he made such a motion. Plaintiffs responded that they did not recall any such motion being made. While, at a minimum, the better practice would be for such motions to be made on the record, we will assume that such a motion was made. See Follette, 460 F.2d at 255; Gebhardt, 348 F.2d at 132-33.

We will therefore consider defendant's argument that the district court erred in denying its motions because the evidence was insufficient to support a case of negligence. A court uses the same standard

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in passing on a motion for a directed verdict as it uses in considering a JNOV motion, and our review of a district court's action on both motions is plenary. See Smollett v. Skayting Dev. Corp., 793 F.2d 547, 548 (3d Cir.1986); Gilpin v. Langan, 789 F.2d 1034, 1037 (3d Cir.1986). A court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, see Kelly v. Matlack, Inc., 903 F.2d 978, 981 (3d Cir.1990); Blum v. Witco Chemical Corp., 829 F.2d 367, 372 (3d Cir.1987) (JNOV); Macleary v. Hines, 817 F.2d 1081, 1083 (3d Cir.1987) (directed verdict), and determine whether "the record contains the 'minimum quantum of evidence from which a jury might reasonably afford relief' ", Smollett, 793 F.2d at 548 (quoting Denneny v. Siegel, 407 F.2d 433, 439 (3d Cir.1969)).

In negligence cases under New Jersey law, a plaintiff must establish that defendant breached a...

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