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Motion for directed verdict in unlawful detainer (eviction) case in California

A motion for directed verdict in an unlawful detainer (eviction) case in California is the topic of this blog post. A motion for directed verdict can only be filed in cases involving a jury trial and is authorized by Code of Civil Procedure section 630. The filing of a motion for directed verdict in a California eviction case is authorized by Code of Civil Procedure section 1177 which states that, “Except as otherwise provided in this Chapter the provisions of Part II of this Code are applicable to, and constitute the rules of practice in the proceedings mentioned in this Chapter.”

A motion for directed verdict is very similar to a motion for nonsuit in that the motion essentially operates as a demurrer to the evidence presented by the opposing party. Either motion will be granted if there is no substantial evidence to support the claim or defense of the party opposing the motion. However, there are some differences between the two motions which are:

A motion for directed verdict generally lies after all the parties have completed presentation of evidence in a jury trial. Nonsuit motions are usually made after the plaintiff’s evidence is concluded.

Although typically filed by a defendant a motion for directed verdict may also be brought by a plaintiff.

A motion for directed verdict in California is used in order to achieve a judgment as a matter of law. The judgment requested would be in favor of one (or more) parties on all (or some) of the issues in that particular case. The motion is filed after all parties present their evidence and before the matter goes to the jury. The granting of the motion may dismiss a party or decide some (or all) of the issues before the matter goes to a jury. After entry of any judgment in accordance with a directed verdict, the prevailing party can recover its costs of suit pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure § 1038.

Note that a motion for directed verdict is only appropriate when it is clear from the evidence presented, that the party against whom the motion is made, typically a plaintiff or cross-complainant, cannot meet its burden of proof of elements of its claim against the moving party.

An appropriate example in an eviction case would be where the evidence is insufficient to sustain Plaintiff’s burden of proof on the issue whether the plaintiff has standing to sue as they do not hold valid title to the property due to an invalid foreclosure, whether the plaintiff can state a valid cause of action for unlawful detainer due to a defective three-day notice, etc.

Note that a motion for directed verdict may be brought even if a motion for nonsuit was previously denied by the court.

In ruling on a motion for directed verdict, the court determines only whether there is no evidence to support a verdict against the moving party. On a motion for directed verdict, the court’s decision will operate as an adjudication on the merits unless otherwise ordered by the court, however the jury must still render a verdict before the decision on the motion for directed verdict can be incorporated in the final judgment.

A California Court of Appeal has stated that filing a motion for directed verdict is proper when there is no conflict in the evidence, and substantial evidence supports a verdict in favor of the moving party.

Attorneys or parties in California who would like to view a portion of a 14 page sample motion for directed verdict including a memorandum of points and authorities with citations to case law and statutory authority, sample declaration and proposed order sold by the author can see below.

The author of this blog post, Stan Burman, is an entrepreneur and freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995 and has created over 300 sample legal documents for California and Federal litigation.

You can view portions of over 300 sample legal documents for California and Federal litigation at http://www.scribd.com/LegalDocsPro

*Do you want to use this article on your website, blog or e-zine? You can, as long as you include this blurb with it: “Stan Burman is the author of over 300 sample legal documents for California and Federal litigation and is the author of a free weekly legal newsletter. You can receive 10 free gifts just for subscribing. Just visit http://freeweeklylegalnewsletter.gr8.com/ for more information.

Follow the author on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/LegalDocsPro

You can view sample legal document packages for sale by going to http://www.legaldocspro.com/downloads.aspx

DISCLAIMER:

Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.

The materials and information contained in this blog post have been prepared by Stan Burman for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information contained in this blog post is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any business relationship between the author and any readers. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.

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