(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this workplace discrimination/personal injury case and its proceedings.)
PLAINTIFF IS ENTITLED TO A NEW TRIAL BASED ON INSUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE TO JUSTIFY THE VERDICT IN THIS WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION CASE
Court’s Obligation to Re-Weigh Evidence
On application of the party aggrieved, a verdict may be vacated, in whole or in part, and a new trial may be granted, on all or some of the issues, on the ground of insufficiency of the evidence to justify the verdict if substantial rights of the aggrieved party are materially affected thereby. (Code Civ. Proc. § 657(6).) The ground that the evidence was insufficient to justify the verdict must be established by the minutes of the court (see Code Civ. Proc. § 658).
A motion for new trial on the ground of insufficiency of the evidence is properly granted if, after weighing the evidence and reasonable inferences, the court is convinced that the jury clearly should have reached a different verdict or decision. (Code Civ. Proc. § 657; Russell v. Nelson (1969) 1 Cal. App. 3d 919, 922.) The court does not disregard the verdict, or decide what result it should have reached if the case had been tried without a jury, but instead it should consider the proper weight to be accorded to the evidence and then decide whether or not, in its opinion, there is sufficient credible evidence to support the verdict. (People v. Robarge (1953) 41 Cal.2d 628, 633.)
While it is the exclusive province of the jury to find the facts, it is the duty of the trial court to see that this function is intelligently and justly performed, and in the exercise of its supervisory power over the verdict, the court should consider the probative force of the evidence and satisfy itself that the evidence as a whole is sufficient to sustain the verdict. (People v. Robarge (1953) 41 Cal.2d 628, 633.) The trial judge is required to weigh the evidence and in so doing he or she may disbelieve witnesses and draw inferences contrary to those supporting the verdict. (See Locksley v. Ungureanu (1986) 178 Cal.App.3d 457, 463; Mercer v. Perez (1968) 68 Cal. 2d 104, 112; Dietrich v. Litton Industries, Inc. (1970) 12 Cal. App. 3d 704, 707, 717.)
If, in the opinion of the court, the evidence is unreliable, it is the court’s duty to grant a new trial and it may grant a new trial even when there is substantial evidence to sustain the verdict if it believes that the evidence preponderates against the verdict. (See Moore v. City & County of San Francisco (1970) 5 Cal. App. 3d 728, 738; Lucas v. Hesperia Golf & Country Club (1967) 255 Cal. App.2d 241, 253.) (See Part 6 of 12.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.