Friday, December 11, 2009, 2:57 PM

NC Supremes Divided On Punitives Judgment Not Withstanding Verdict

In Scarborough v. Dillard's, Inc., the Supreme Court divided over the role of the court in ruling on motions notwithstanding the verdict as to punitive damages. Chief Justice Parker, writing for the majority, affirmed the trial court's entry of judgment notwithstanding the verdict in the defendant's favor as to punitive damages because punitive damages require clear and convincing evidence, which the majority held the plaintiff had not proffered.

The dissent, authored by Justice Timmons-Goodson and joined by Justice Hudson, would have, as did the Court of Appeals majority, reversed the trial court. The dissent stated that the majority conflated the burdens of production and persuasion and allowed the judge to usurp the jury's role in the persuasion equation in deciding whether the plaintiff had produced clear and convincing evidence in support of his punitive damages claim.

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