Toward a Liberal Application of the “Close of All the Evidence” Requirement of Rule 50(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure: Embracing Fairness Over Formalism

This Note examines the language and purposes of rule 50 to determine if and when a relaxed application of its requirements is appropriate. Part I considers the terms and goal of the rule and concludes that its purpose is to put the party opposing the motion for judgment as a matter of law on notice of the movant’s assertion that the evidence is insufficient as a matter of law, and to provide the opposing party an opportunity to “cure.” Part II discusses courts’ varying application of the requirement that a motion for judgment as a matter of law made at the close of all the evidence precede a renewal of such a motion after the jury has returned its verdict. Part III analyzes the approaches and argues that, given the purpose behind rule 50(b) and the spirit of the Federal Rules, a liberal interpretation of this requirement is appropriate. This last Part proposes an amendment to the rule which alters its language to reflect better the purposes the rule is intended to serve.