Third Circuit Bar Association Newsletter

Preserving issues for appeal is a crucial, ever-present consideration for trial counsel, and it looms at all stages of trial. Of particular salience is the requirement that a party raise arguments relating to the sufficiency of evidence supporting a claimant’s cause of action in Rule 50 motions—both before a jury verdict.

Autores: Jorge Rojas Colin E. Wrabley

Recently, in Frank C. Pollara Group, LLC v. Ocean View Investment Holding, LLC, 784 F.3d 177 (3d Cir. 2015), the Third Circuit addressed an unsettled Rule 50 preservation issue, which the Supreme Court did not definitively resolve in Ortiz v. Jordan, 131 S.Ct. 884 (2011): whether a party’s failure to raise so-called “purely legal questions” in Rule 50 motions at trial waives them on appeal, even where the questions had been previously raised and rejected at summary judgment. The Circuit sided with the majority of circuits and acknowledged that “purely legal questions” raised before trial need not be raised later at the Rule 50 stage in order to be preserved for appeal. But it found that the “purely legal question” exception did not apply to prevent a waiver on the facts before it, thereby demonstrating the sort of careful analysis the Circuit will undertake in determining whether the exception applies. Ultimately, Ocean View reaffirms that prudent counsel should raise all issues in its Rule 50 motions that he or she may wish to raise on appeal.

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