law-directed-verdict | judgment non obstante veredicto JNOV | legal sufficiency review |  

A directed verdict in favor of a defendant may be proper when (1) a plaintiff fails to present evidence
raising a fact issue essential to the plaintiff's right of recovery or (2) the plaintiff admits or the evidence
conclusively establishes a defense to the plaintiff's cause of action. See id. We review the trial court's
granting of a directed verdict by following the same standard for assessing legal sufficiency of the
evidence. Mathis v. Restoration Builders, Inc., 231 S.W.3d 47, 50 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2007, no
pet.). We review the entire record in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, indulging every reasonable
inference and resolving any doubts against the motion. City of Keller v. Wilson, 168 S.W.3d at 824.

A challenge to the denial of a directed verdict is, in essence, a challenge to the legal sufficiency of the
evidence.  Cleveland Reg’l Med. Ctr., L.P. v. Celtic Properties, L.C., 323 S.W.3d 322, 346 (Tex. App.—
Beaumont 2010, pet. filed); Haynes, & Boone, L.L.P. v. Chason, 81 S.W.3d 307, 309 (Tex. App.—Tyler
2001, pet. denied).  In reviewing a trial court’s denial of a motion for directed verdict, we are limited to the
specific grounds stated in the motion.  Batra v. Clark, 110 S.W.3d 126, 128 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.]
2003, no pet.); Cooper v. Lyon Fin. Servs., Inc., 65 S.W.3d 197, 207 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.]
2001, no pet.).

WHEN IS DIRECTED VERDICT PROPER? When can appeal succeed?

An appeal from the denial of a motion for directed verdict is in essence a challenge to the legal
sufficiency of the evidence.  Solares v. Solares, 232 S.W.3d 873, 878 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2007, no pet.).  An
appellant presenting a legal-sufficiency challenge on an issue on which he bore the burden of proof must
demonstrate the evidence conclusively established all vital facts to support the issue.  Id. at 878-79.  In
particular, a directed verdict is proper for a plaintiff if the evidence conclusively proves facts that establish
his right to recovery.  Lemaster v. Top Level Printing Ink, Inc., 136 S.W.3d 745, 747 (Tex. App.-Dallas
2004, no pet.); see Sherman v. Elkowitz, 130 S.W.3d 316, 319 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2004, no
pet.) (recognizing that directed verdict is proper if, among other circumstances, the evidence conclusively
proves a fact that establishes a party's right to judgment as a matter of law).  Evidence is conclusive “only
if reasonable people could not differ in their conclusions, a matter that depends on the facts of each
case."  City of Keller v. Wilson, 168 S.W.3d 802, 816 (Tex. 2005).  We will credit the favorable evidence if
reasonable jurors could and disregard the contrary evidence unless reasonable jurors could not.  Id. at
827.
Montgomery v. Byrd (Tex.App.- Houston [14th Dist.] Aug. 25, 2009)(Seymore)
(
breach of contract and counterclaim, offsetting claims after dissolution of business relationship with
settlement and release; employees brought lawsuit that entailed liability for both parties)
(
directed verdict should have been granted, only attorney's fees issue for the jury to decide)
REVERSED AND REMANDED: Opinion by
Justice Seymore    
Before Chief Justice Hedges, Justices Anderson and Seymore  
14-07-01015-CV  Chester Montgomery v. Richard Byrd   
Appeal from County Civil Court at Law No 4 of Harris County
Trial Court Judge:
Roberta Anne Lloyd
As explained below, we conclude the trial court erred by denying Montgomery's motion for directed verdict
because he conclusively proved facts establishing his right to recovery.


DIRECTED VERDICT: Standard of Review on Appeal

In reviewing an instructed verdict, we determine whether there is more than a scintilla of probative
evidence to raise a fact issue on the material questions presented.  Coastal Transp. Co. v. Crown Cent.
Petroleum Corp., 136 S.W.3d 227, 233 (Tex. 2004); Szczepanik v. First S. Trust Co., 883 S.W.2d 648, 649
(Tex. 1994) (per curiam).  We consider all of the evidence in a light most favorable to the party against
whom the verdict was instructed and give the losing party the benefit of all reasonable inferences created
by the evidence.  Coastal Transp., 136 S.W.3d at 234.  If there is any conflicting evidence of probative
value on any theory of recovery, an instructed verdict is improper and the case must be reversed and
remanded for jury determination of that issue.  Szczepanik, 883 S.W.2d at 649.
Murchison v. Pham (Tex.App.- Houston [14th Dist.] Aug. 11, 2009)(Guzman)
(no negligence shown in
car collision suit, directed verdict affirmed)
AFFIRMED: Opinion by
Justice Guzman  
Before Justices Anderson, Guzman and Boyce  
14-08-00080-CV Gary Murchison v. Minh Quoc Pham   
Appeal from 80th District Court of Harris County
Trial Court
Judge: Hon. Lynn Bradshaw-Hull  

Directed Verdict

A trial court may properly grant a directed verdict if no evidence of probative force raises a material fact
issue.  Prudential Ins. Co. of Am. v. Fin. Review Servs., Inc., 29 S.W.3d 74, 77 (Tex. 2000).  We review a
directed verdict under the same
standard of review as a legal sufficiency, or no-evidence, challenge.  See
City of Keller v. Wilson, 168 S.W.3d 802, 823 (Tex. 2005).  Thus, a directed verdict for a defendant may
be appropriate if the plaintiff fails to present evidence raising a fact issue essential to the plaintiff's right of
recovery.  See Cherqui v. Westheimer Street Festival Corp., 116 S.W.3d 337, 343 (Tex. App.- Houston
[14th Dist.] 2003, no pet.).  
We will consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the party against whom the verdict was
directed, crediting favorable evidence if reasonable jurors could and disregarding contrary evidence
unless reasonable jurors could not.  See AVCO Corp. v. Interstate Sw., Ltd., 251 S.W.3d 632, 667 (Tex.
App.- Houston [14th Dist.] 2007, pet. denied).
Robertson v. Barnes (Tex.App.- Houston [14th Dist.] July 30, 2009)(Sullivan)
(home owner,
consumer law, DTPA, home in poor condition, stucco problem, seller was not required to
disclose prior water damage because repair was not "structural" which the court construes as referring to
load-bearing)
AFFIRMED: Opinion by
Justice Sullivan  
Before Justices Brock Yates, Guzman and Sullivan  
14-07-00791-CV  Chris Robertson v. Joe Barnes and Sandion, Ltd d/b/a Coldwell Banker United,
Realtors   
Appeal from 280th District Court of Harris County
Trial Court
Judge: TONY LINDSAY


A trial court may instruct a verdict in favor of a defendant if no evidence of probative force raises a fact
issue on the material questions in the suit.  See Prudential Ins. Co. of Am. v. Fin. Review Servs., Inc., 29 S.
W.3d 74, 77 (Tex. 2000).  A directed verdict in favor of a defendant may be proper when (1) a plaintiff fails
to present evidence raising a fact issue essential to the plaintiff’s right of recovery; or (2) the plaintiff
admits or the evidence conclusively establishes a defense to the plaintiff’s cause of action.  See id.  
We review the trial court’s granting of a directed verdict by following the same standard for assessing legal
sufficiency of the evidence.  See City of Keller v. Wilson, 168 S.W.3d 802, 809-828 (Tex. 2005).  
When reviewing the legal sufficiency of the evidence, we consider the evidence in the light most favorable
to the nonmovant and indulge every reasonable inference that would support the verdict.  Id. at 823.  
When reviewing a directed verdict, we must credit favorable evidence if a reasonable factfinder could and
disregard contrary evidence unless a reasonable factfinder could not.  See id. at 827.
Champion v. Great Dane LP, No. 14-08-00310-CV (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] May 7, 2009)(Frost)
(
product liability, design defect, defective manufacturing)


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