An Orange County Superior Court trial judge recently granted our nonsuit motions against a plaintiff who made numerous allegations it could not corroborate with actual evidence. Our motions were heard after the plaintiff rested its case—plaintiff presented all its witnesses and documents to the jury. The basis of our motions was Code of Civil Procedure Section 581c:
(a) After the plaintiff has completed his or her opening statement or the presentation of his or her evidence in a trial by jury, the defendant, without waiving his right to offer evidence in the event the motion is not granted, may move for a judgment of nonsuit.
(c) If the motion is granted, unless the court in its order for judgment otherwise specifies, the judgment of nonsuit operates as an adjudication upon the merits.
Our success was dependent on being prepared and clearly articulating to the court, the missing evidentiary proof that was necessary in the plaintiff’s case. With regard to the cause of action for misappropriation of trade secrets, we explained that plaintiff had failed to present sufficient evidence to show that it had a trade secret and that there was a nexus of culpability on my client’s part.
After the court granted our motions, the jury was brought in. The judge told them that he had taken their decision-making ability away and entered judgment against the plaintiff because the plaintiff failed to meet its burden to present sufficient evidence to prove its case. The learning lesson for a plaintiff is to make sure to present evidence that meets all elements of your cause(s) of action. For a defendant, focus on explaining to the court that plaintiff failed to meet its elements.