Monday, July 14, 2014

Rule 50 discussed in MEDISIM LTD., vs. BestMed

From the decision:

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50 sets forth the procedural
requirements for challenging the sufficiency of the
evidence in a civil jury trial and establishes two stages for
such challenges. Rule 50(a) allows a party to challenge
the sufficiency of the evidence prior to submission of the
case to the jury. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(a). Rule 50(b), by
contrast, sets forth the procedural requirements for
renewing a sufficiency of the evidence challenge after the
jury verdict. See id. 50(b); see generally Unitherm Food
Sys., Inc. v. Swift-Eckrich, Inc., 546 U.S. 394, 399-400
(2006). These two provisions are linked together, as “[a]
motion under Rule 50(b) is not allowed unless the movant
sought relief on similar grounds under Rule 50(a) before
the case was submitted to the jury.” Exxon Shipping Co.
v. Baker, 554 U.S. 471, 486 n.5 (2008).


While Medisim may not have been surprised by
BestMed’s invalidity contentions, the Supreme Court has
held previously that our Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
are to be strictly followed in circumstances such as this
one. In Unitherm, for example, a party moved for a
directed verdict under Rule 50(a) prior to the district
court’s submission of the case to the jury, but following
the verdict the party failed to renew its motion for JMOL
pursuant to Rule 50(b). See 546 U.S. at 398. In preventing
the party from challenging the sufficiency of the
evidence on appeal, the Supreme Court stated that “a
party is not entitled to pursue a new trial on appeal
unless that party makes an appropriate postverdict
motion in the district court.” Id. at 404. While the issue
here is whether BestMed failed to move under Rule 50(a),
the principle of forfeiture articulated in Unitherm re
mains the same. See, e.g., Yakus v. United States, 321
U.S. 414, 444 (1944) (“No procedural principle is more
familiar to this Court than that a . . . right may be forfeited
. . . by the failure to make timely assertion of the right
before a tribunal having jurisdiction to determine it.”).
With that principle in mind, we conclude that Best-
Med forfeited its right to move for JMOL on anticipation.
The statement that BestMed now relies on as evidence of
a motion for JMOL actually indicates the opposite—
BestMed’s counsel stated that anticipation was “definitely
something for the jury.” J.A. 4530.


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