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Insurance Law Supreme Court Opinion

by Roy, Christopher

 

SC19968 - Riley v. Travelers Home & Marine Ins. Co. ("This appeal concerns a question of civil procedure arising when a jury returns a verdict in favor of the plaintiff that the defendant claims was not supported by sufficient evidence presented during the plaintiff's case-in-chief. Under what has come to be known as the waiver rule, 'when a trial court denies a defendant's motion for a directed verdict at the close of the plaintiff's case, the defendant, by opting to introduce evidence in his or her own behalf, waives the right to appeal the trial court's ruling.' Sears, Roebuck & Co. v. Board of Tax Review, 241 Conn. 749, 756–57, 699 A.2d 81 (1997). The defendant, The Traveler's Home and Marine Insurance Company, contends that the waiver rule is inapplicable to civil cases in which a trial court reserves decision on a motion for a directed verdict pursuant to Practice Book § 16-37. We disagree and conclude that the waiver rule is applicable regardless of whether a motion for a directed verdict has been reserved for decision or denied. Thus, a court reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a jury's verdict must consider all of the evidence considered by the jury returning the verdict, not just the evidence presented in the plaintiff's case-in-chief.

The plaintiff, C. Andrew Riley, commenced this action against the defendant for breach of contract and negligent infliction of emotional distress stemming from the defendant's handling of the plaintiff's homeowner's insurance claim. At the close of the plaintiff's case-in-chief, the defendant moved for a directed verdict on the plaintiff's negligent infliction of emotional distress claim, and the trial court reserved decision on that motion. The defendant then presented evidence in its defense, some of which supported the plaintiff's contention that the defendant had been negligent in its investigation of his homeowner's insurance claim. The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff on both counts. The defendant timely moved for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, renewing its motion for a directed verdict and requesting the court to set aside the verdict on the claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress and render judgment for the defendant. The trial court, relying primarily on evidence that emerged during the defendant's case, determined that there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict and denied the defendant's motion. The Appellate Court affirmed the trial court's judgment; Riley v. Travelers Home & Marine Ins. Co., 173 Conn. App. 422, 462, 163 A.3d 1246 (2017); and we affirm the judgment of the Appellate Court.")