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Directed Verdicts

At trial — even after surviving motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment — a plaintiff may still lose his/her claim after presenting his/her evidence with a directed verdict. A motion for directed verdict is proper when a plaintiff has not made a submissible case. Rustici v. Weidemeyer, 673 S.W.2d 762, 765 (Mo. 1984). A submissible (i.e., one that may be submitted to the jury) case only exists when “legal and substantial evidence supports each fact essential to liability.” Sanders v. Ahmed, 364 S.W.3d 195, 208 (Mo. 2012). A motion for directed verdict must “state the specific grounds therefore.” 

What this means, then, is that there must be sufficient factual evidence to support each element of a claim of legal liability. By way of example, then, a “submissible case of breach of contract [requires] the existence of a valid contract, the rights of paintiff and obligations of defendant under the contract, a breach by defendant, and damages resulting from the breach.” C. Am. Health Sciences Univ., Belize Med. College v. Norouzian, 236 S.W.3d 69, 84 (Mo. Ct. App. 2007).  In order to make a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, it is generally required that the requesting party must have first moved for a directed verdict. 

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