Unitherm Food Systems, Inc. v. Swift-Eckrich, Inc.
546 U.S. 394 (2006)
Unitherm was suing Swift over
an antitrust issue. As the plaintiffs, Unitherm presented their case
first. Ehen Unitherm rested, Swift moved for a judgment as a matter of
law (JMOL) (aka Rule 50).
Swift argued that Unitherm
had failed to put on sufficient evidence to support a finding of
The Trial judge rejected the
motion, the trial proceeded, and Swift put on their defense.
At the close of all evidence,
Swift failed to make a renewed motion for JMOL (Rule 50(b)) or a motion for new
trial (Rule 59) on the basis of
The Trial Court found for
Unitherm. Swift appealed.
Swift argued in the
Appellate Court that Unitherm had failed to show sufficient evidence.
The US Supreme Court affirmed.
The US Supreme Court found
that Swift's failure to make a post-trial motion precluded Swift from
raising the question of evidentiary sufficiency on appeal, either to
support JMOL or a new trial.
The Court noted that the
Trial judge is in the best position to determine sufficiency of the
evidence, and thus that a party may not bypass presenting the question to
the Trial Court and raising it directly on appeal.
Basically, if you feel that
the opposing side has not presented enough evidence to win the case, you
must make both a Rule 50
JMOL motion when they rest their case and make a Rule 50(b) or Rule 59 motion at the close of all evidence.
If you don't take both these
actions, you can't argue them on appeal. The basis of an appeal is that
the Trial Court made a mistake, but if you don't make both of those
motions, then the Trial Court never rules on the issue, so it can't be
said that they've made a mistake.