At the end of a civil trial the defendant can, and often will, make a motion for a “directed verdict” which would dismiss the plaintiff’s case before it goes to the jury.
According to the Handbook of Civil Procedure in the Massachusetts District Court, Section 9.30:
A defendant may seek to terminate the case after the plaintiff has completed presentation of the evidence and at the close of all evidence. This may be done by means of a motion for directed verdict in a jury case.
The judge cannot grants the motion if
anywhere in the evidence, from whatever source derived, any combination of circumstances could be found from which a reasonable inference could be drawn in favor of the plaintiff.
See Raunela v. Hertz Corp., 361 Mass. 341.
Even when this very high standard is met, the Supreme Judicial Court still suggests that it is “better procedure” to deny the directed-verdict motion and allow the matter to be determined by the jury.
See Smith v. Ariens Co., 375 Mass. 620 and Rollins v. Shaw’s Supermarket, Inc., 2007 Mass. App. Div. 36.