Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a federal appeals court to instruct a district court to enter judgment as a matter of law, rather than leaving that determination to the lower court, after finding the evidence insufficient to support a verdict, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled Feb. 22 (Chad Weisgram, et al. v. Marley Co., et al., No. 99-161, U.S. Sup.Ct.).

The high court affirmed a ruling by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacating a jury verdict for Chad Weisgram and remanding to the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota for entry of judgment as a matter of law for Marley Corp. The 8th Circuit found that the lower court abused its discretion in admitting the testimony of three technical witnesses in a suit alleging that the death of Weisgram’s mother, Bonnie Weisgram, resulted from smoke inhalation caused by a defective baseboard heater manufactured by Marley.

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