Keith v. Truck Stops Corp. of America, No. 90-5031

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore HUTCHINSON, COWEN and SEITZ; SEITZ
Citation909 F.2d 743
PartiesJerry KEITH and Connie Keith v. TRUCK STOPS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, John Doe or John Doe Inc. Appeal of TRUCKSTOPS OF AMERICA CORPORATION. . Submitted Under Third Circuit Rule 12(6)
Docket NumberNo. 90-5031
Decision Date30 May 1990

Page 743

909 F.2d 743
18 Fed.R.Serv.3d 231
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.
United States Court of Appeals,
Third Circuit.
Submitted Under Third Circuit Rule 12(6)
May 30, 1990.
Decided July 24, 1990.

Page 744

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 OF THE COURT

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

Page 745

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 duty of reasonable care, which constituted a proximate cause of plaintiff's injuries. Brown v. Racquet Club of Bricktown, 95 N.J. 280, 471 A.2d 25, 29 (1984). The proprietor of a business "owes a duty of reasonable care to those who enter the premises upon [an] invitation [for business purposes] to provide a reasonably safe place to do that which is within the scope of the invitation." Butler v. Acme Mkts., Inc., 89 N.J. 270, 275, 445 A.2d 1141, 1143 (1982).

We now consider the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiffs. Plaintiff Jerry Keith had taken his truck to the Truckstops facility to be serviced. As he was closing the hood on his truck after the servicing had been completed, he put one foot on top of the stairway that led down into the grease pit under his truck. When he did so, the stairway collapsed under him, causing him to fall into the pit and land on top of the stairway. He did not know what caused the stairway to fall.

Defendant maintains that since plaintiffs provided no explanation of what caused the stairway to fall, there is no direct evidence of negligent conduct or wrongdoing on its part.

There was, however, evidence that plaintiff was injured when he fell into defendant's grease pit; that the stairway leading down into...

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95 practice notes
  • Starceski v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., No. 94-3208
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • 3 Mayo 1995
    ...U.S. 959, 101 S.Ct. 1418, 67 L.Ed.2d 383 and Denneny v. Siegel, 407 F.2d 433, 439 (3d Cir.1969)); Keith v. Truck Stops Corp. of America, 909 F.2d 743, 744-45 (3d Cir.1990) (citations omitted); Link v. Mercedes-Benz of North America, Inc., 788 F.2d 918, 921 (3d Cir.1986). In other words, the......
  • E.E.O.C. v. Federal Express Corp., Civil Action No. 1:02-CV-1194.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • 18 Enero 2005
    ...party, there is a "minimum quantum of evidence" from which a jury could reach a verdict for that party. Keith v. Truck Stops Corp., 909 F.2d 743, 745 (3d Cir. 1990) (citations omitted). Judgment as a matter of law should be granted sparingly, although a "scintilla of evidence" is insufficie......
  • In re Dow Corning Corp., No. 99-CV-73941-DT
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Michigan
    • 13 Noviembre 2000
    ...with its own time for appeal at least where the change is the subject matter to be reviewed." Keith v. Truck Stops Corporation of America, 909 F.2d 743, 746 (3rd Applying the rationale of the Ninth, Seventh and Third Circuits to the case at bar, the December 21 Opinion is appealable. A tria......
  • 86 Hawai'i 93, Ditto v. McCurdy, No. 17346
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Hawai'i
    • 9 Junio 1997
    ...is instructed to issue an order denying Ditto's July 21, 1992 motion for prejudgment interest. See Keith v. Truck Stops Corp. of Am., 909 F.2d 743, 747 (3d Cir.1990). If, on the other hand, the trial court finds that the motion was served no later than ten days after entry of the judgment, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
95 cases
  • Starceski v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., No. 94-3208
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • 3 Mayo 1995
    ...U.S. 959, 101 S.Ct. 1418, 67 L.Ed.2d 383 and Denneny v. Siegel, 407 F.2d 433, 439 (3d Cir.1969)); Keith v. Truck Stops Corp. of America, 909 F.2d 743, 744-45 (3d Cir.1990) (citations omitted); Link v. Mercedes-Benz of North America, Inc., 788 F.2d 918, 921 (3d Cir.1986). In other words, the......
  • E.E.O.C. v. Federal Express Corp., Civil Action No. 1:02-CV-1194.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • 18 Enero 2005
    ...party, there is a "minimum quantum of evidence" from which a jury could reach a verdict for that party. Keith v. Truck Stops Corp., 909 F.2d 743, 745 (3d Cir. 1990) (citations omitted). Judgment as a matter of law should be granted sparingly, although a "scintilla of evidence" is insufficie......
  • In re Dow Corning Corp., No. 99-CV-73941-DT
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Michigan
    • 13 Noviembre 2000
    ...with its own time for appeal at least where the change is the subject matter to be reviewed." Keith v. Truck Stops Corporation of America, 909 F.2d 743, 746 (3rd Applying the rationale of the Ninth, Seventh and Third Circuits to the case at bar, the December 21 Opinion is appealable. A tria......
  • 86 Hawai'i 93, Ditto v. McCurdy, No. 17346
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Hawai'i
    • 9 Junio 1997
    ...is instructed to issue an order denying Ditto's July 21, 1992 motion for prejudgment interest. See Keith v. Truck Stops Corp. of Am., 909 F.2d 743, 747 (3d Cir.1990). If, on the other hand, the trial court finds that the motion was served no later than ten days after entry of the judgment, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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