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Snipes v. Snipes

Filed: February 2, 1982.

JOE M. SNIPES
v.
IDA M. SNIPES (WINDOW); VERNON P. DAVIS AND WIFE, BARBARA S. DAVIS



Appeal by defendants from Bailey, Judge. Judgment filed 9 December 1980 in Superior Court, Chatham County. Heard in the Court of Appeals 10 November 1981.

Martin (Harry C.), Judge. Judge Clark concurs. Judge Hedrick dissents.

Martin

Defendants first contend that it was error for the trial court to grant plaintiff's motion for directed verdict where plaintiff failed to state the specific grounds for his motion as required by Rule 50(a) of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure. Not only does the record disclose plaintiff's failure to comply with Rule 50(a), but it also discloses that defendants failed to object at trial to the Rule 50(a) violation. "[W]hen a motion for a directed verdict is granted, the adverse party who did not make a specific objection at trial to the movant's failure to state specific grounds therefor is precluded from raising the objection on appeal." Byerly v. Byerly, 38 N.C. App. 551, 553 248 S.E.2d 433, 435 (1978).

Defendants further contend that the trial court erred in granting a motion for a directed verdict in favor of the party having the burden of proof "upon a controverted issue involving the credibility of witnesses."

It is now established law in North Carolina that any party may move for a directed verdict at the close of all the evidence. Bank v. Burnette, 297 N.C. 524, 256 S.E.2d 388 (1979). Where the moving party has the burden of proof, our courts generally will not direct a verdict if credibility remains an issue unless "the evidence so clearly establishes the fact in issue that no reasonable inferences to the contrary can be drawn." Id. at 536, 256 S.E.2d at 395. The Court in Burnette set out three situations in which

the credibility of the movant's evidence is manifest as a matter of law:

(1) Where non-movant establishes proponent's case by admitting the truth of the basic facts upon which the claim of proponent rests. . . .

(2) Where the controlling evidence is documentary and non-movant does not deny the authenticity or correctness of the documents. . . .

(3) Where there are only latent doubts as to the credibility of oral testimony and the opposing party has "failed to point to specific areas of impeachment and contradictions."

297 N.C. at 537-38, 256 S.E.2d at 396 (citations omitted).

Plaintiff contends that his right to recover does not depend upon the credibility of his testimony, but is established by the documents in evidence and the admissions of the defendants, as follows:

(1) A valid written lease was executed between the parties. The lease is recorded in the Office of the Register of Deeds of Chatham County and was ...


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