Q: I could not understand about Armstrong v. Food Lion in the chapter of Agency. In the last paragraph, it is said that "the trial court appropriately granted a directed verdict because petitionerrs failed~." I was not sure about the meaning of Directed Verdict, googled it and interpreted as: judge will make a verdict alone without jury's decision (or contrary to jury's decision). I understood this case as: in trial court, judge-armstrong wins, jury-food lion wins. (judge made directed verdict, ignoring jury's decision) in appelas court, food lion wins as jury said in supreme court, appeals court affirmed- food lion wins.
A: You are basically correct. But, the jury never decided the Food Lion case. The trial judge granted a directed verdict after the plaintiff (Armstrong) put on his case. Then, the defendant (Food Lion) argued that, as a matter of law, the employees were not acting in the course & scope of Food Lion employment when they attacked Armstrong. Even if we believe everything Armstrong says, we know that the employees were not acting in the course-scope of their employment. The court agreed that, as a matter of law, there was not respondeat superior liability. So, there was nothing for the jury to decide - juries decide fact issues, not the law. Here the facts were clear = employees were not furthering Food Lion's business, so the trial judge could decide the case. The appeals court and state supreme court affirmed the trial judge's dismissal of Armstrong's claim.
Directed verdicts can be granted by a trial court at the end of the plaintiff's case or end of the defendant's case. The judge decides that the plaintiff has no legal claim, even if we believe all the plaintiff's facts. When a judge grants a verdict contrary to the jury's decision, that is a Judgment Not Withstanding the Verdict (JNOV).
I am not asking you to understand these motions, but this answers your question.