This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2002).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Corey Donald Ransom,
d/b/a Yamaha/Suzuki Sports Center,
Filed June 8, 2004
Lac Qui Parle County District Court
File No. C6-99-38
James R. Doran, Attorney at Law, 416 East Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
Robert G. Haugen, Johnson & Lindberg, P.A., 7900 International Drive, Suite 960, Minneapolis, MN 55425-1582 (for respondent)
Considered and decided by Peterson, Presiding Judge; Anderson, Judge; and Crippen, Judge.*
G. BARRY ANDERSON, Judge
Appellant Corey Ransom appeals from the district court’s denial of his motions for JNOV or, in the alternative, a new trial. Ransom argues that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support the verdict. We affirm.
Respondent L.N.D. Properties (L.N.D.) operated a recreational vehicle dealership. In January 1994, L.N.D. bought back a snowmobile that it had originally sold to a customer in 1992. The snowmobile was damaged at the time of buy-back; the track of the snowmobile had broken while its original owner was operating it. L.N.D. repaired the snowmobile and, in February 1994, resold it to Jeff Wildung, a third party to this litigation.
In December 1994, Jeff Wildung, Dean Wildung, and Ransom took a snowmobile trip. During the trip, the engine of Jeff Wildung’s snowmobile began to malfunction and the three attempted to repair it. To check the engine, Ransom and Dean Wildung stood behind the snowmobile and held the back end of the snowmobile off the ground while Jeff Wildung gunned the engine. While Ransom and Dean Wildung were holding the snowmobile off the ground, the track of the snowmobile broke suddenly. Ransom was injured when the broken track struck his legs.
By way of procedural history, this is the second appeal based on the same set of facts. Before the first jury trial in this case, the district court denied L.N.D.’s motion to exclude Ransom’s expert testimony. At the first trial, the jury found that L.N.D. was negligent, that L.N.D.’s negligence was a direct cause of Ransom’s injury, and that Ransom was not negligent. The jury awarded Ransom damages.
L.N.D. moved the district court for JNOV or, in the alternative, a new trial. The district court denied the motions, concluding that it did not have jurisdiction to hear L.N.D.’s motions because the motions were untimely. L.N.D. appealed, and we reversed and remanded to allow the district court to consider L.N.D.’s motions. The supreme court denied Ransom’s petition for further review.
On remand, the district court concluded that it had erred by allowing Ransom’s expert witness to testify and granted L.N.D.’s motion for a new trial but limited the issue on retrial to liability. The second jury concluded that L.N.D. was 20% at fault for the accident, Ransom was 30% at fault, and Jeff Wildung was 50% at fault. Ransom moved for JNOV or, in the alternative, a new trial. The district court denied Ransom’s motions. Ransom now appeals.
On appeal, Ransom contends that the evidence submitted at trial was insufficient for the jury to find that parties other than L.N.D. were negligent and therefore responsible for Ransom’s injury. We disagree. “On appeal from a denial of a motion for a new trial, the verdict must stand unless it is manifestly and palpably contrary to the evidence, viewed in a light most favorable to the verdict.” ZumBerge v. N. States Power Co., 481 N.W.2d 103, 110 (Minn. App. 1992), review denied (Minn. Apr. 29, 1992). When we review the district court’s denial of a motion for JNOV, we affirm “if, in the record, there is any competent evidence reasonably tending to sustain the verdict.” Pouliot v. Fitzsimmons, 582 N.W.2d 221, 224 (Minn. 1998) (quotation omitted). We will not set aside the verdict of the jury “[u]nless the evidence is practically conclusive against the verdict.” Id. (quotation omitted). If the verdict “can be sustained on any reasonable theory of the evidence,” we will not set it aside. Id. Further, in reviewing the denial of a motion for JNOV, we consider the evidence “in the light most favorable to the prevailing party.” Id.
Ransom challenges the jury’s finding of comparative fault, arguing the very narrow question of whether there was sufficient evidence presented at trial from which the jury could have concluded that either Ransom or Jeff Wildung were negligent. Although hardly overwhelming, the evidence presented at trial here, including the factual dispute over whether the track was defective and the testimony that Ransom lifted the back end of a snowmobile off of the ground while Jeff Wildung gunned the engine, was sufficient for the jury to reach the conclusions that it did. Because we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, and the evidence presented at trial here was competent to sustain the verdict of the jury, we affirm the judgment of the district court denying appellant’s motions for JNOV or a new trial. See ZumBerge, 481 N.W.2d at 110 (stating the standard for review for denial of motion for new trial); see also Pouliot, 582 N.W.2d at 224 (stating the standard of review for denial of motion for JNOV).
* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.