Aetna Casualty and Surety Co v. Yeatts case brief
Ct of Appeals, 1941 (1112)
Posture: Second trial, I don’t know what first trial was. Jury verdict for defendant (they decided he is not guilty of any criminal conduct) so I guess he gets to keep his money. Ct of appeals affirmed for defendant.
Facts: Suit originally instituted to get a declaratory judgment on coverage of insurance. Company denied any liability due to a criminal abortion at time of liability and that such liability was excluded from policy coverage. Jury verdict decided if defendant Yeatts was getting an abortion at the time, and jury said that she was not, so defendant won. Some evidence that plaintiff should have won but defendant was found to be credible by jury. Plaintiff didn’t move for directed verdict and did not challenge defendant’s evidence until after trial. New trial and jnov denied.
Reasoning: Judge has power to set aside the verdict and grant a new trial if he is of the opinion that verdict is against the clear weight of the evidence or based on false evidence, or result in miscarriage of justice, even though there may be substantial evidence which would prevent the direction of a verdict. Court said that this power is historic and is there to secure jury system and to stop an intolerable tyranny in the court.
The standard for new trial requires that there is NO substantial evidence in support of a plaintiff’s case. If there is substantial evidence, judge is not allowed to WEIGH the evidence, but he is allowed to set aside a verdict supported by substantial evidence where it is contrary to clear weight of evidence or if evidence is completely false. Appeal of a new trial verdict is not allowed. There are only special circumstances where it can be appealed and this one is not so even if there is some evidence that trial judge could properly have granted new trial motion.