United States District Court, D. Montana, Helena Division
L. Christensen, United States District Court Chief Judge.
matter was tried before a jury on April 15, 2019 and the jury
reached a verdict in favor of Defendant on April 17, 2019.
(Doc. 176.) On May 15, 2019, Plaintiff Laurence Stewart filed
a Motion for a Judgment as a Matter of Law or a New Trial.
(Doc. 181.) The Court construes the filing as a motion
brought under Rules 50 and 59 of the Federal Rules of Civil
50-Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law
Rule of Civil Procedure 50 governs a request for a judgment
as a matter of law. Under Rule 50(a), a party must first move
for judgment as a matter of law before the case is submitted
to the jury and "specify the judgment sought and the law
and facts that entitle the movant to the judgment."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a)(2). Under Rule 50(b), if the court denies
the pre-verdict motion, "the movant may file a renewed
motion for judgment as a matter of law and may include an
alternative or joint request for a new trial under Rule
59." Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b). The failure to make a Rule
50(a) motion before the case is submitted to the jury
forecloses the possibility of the Court later considering a
Rule 50(b) motion. Tortu v. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police
Dep't., 556 F.3d 1075, 1083 (9th Cir. 2009).
Stewart did not move for judgment as a matter of law before
this case was submitted to the jury. As such, Mr.
Stewart's motion for judgment as a matter of law must be
59-Motion for New Trial
Stewart's motion for new trial is considered pursuant to
Rule 59 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Under Rule
59, a district court has the discretion to grant a new trial
"for any reason for which a new trial has heretofore
been granted in an action at law in federal court."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(a)(1)(A). Because "Rule 59 does not
specify the grounds on which a motion for a new trial may be
granted," courts are "bound by those grounds that
have been historically recognized." Zhang v. Am. Gem
Seafoods, Inc., 339 F.3d 1020, 1035 (9th Cir. 2003).
"Historically recognized grounds include, but are not
limited to, claims 'that the verdict is against the
weight of the evidence, that the damages are excessive, or
that, for other reasons, the trial was not fair to the party
moving.'" Molski v. M.J. Cable, Inc., 481
F.3d 724, 729 (9th Cir. 2007)(quoting Montgomery Ward
& Co. v. Duncan, 311 U.S. 243, 251 (1940)). The
Ninth Circuit has held that "[t]he trial court may grant
a new trial only if the verdict is contrary to the clear
weight of the evidence, is based upon false or perjurious
evidence, or to prevent a miscarriage of justice."
Molski, 481 F.3d at 729 (citation omitted). The Court has the
to weigh the evidence as he saw it, and to set aside the
verdict of the jury, even though supported by substantial
evidence, where, in his conscientious opinion, the verdict is
contrary to the clear weight of the evidence, or... to
prevent, in the sound discretion of the trial judge, a
miscarriage of justice.
Moist Cold Refrigerator Co. v. Lou Johnson Co., 249
F.2d 246, 256 (9th Cir. 1957), cert, denied, 356 U.S. 968
(1958). "[E]rroneous jury instructions, as well as the
failure to give adequate instructions, are also bases for a
new trial." Murphy v. City of Long Beach, 914
F.2d 183, 187 (9th Cir. 1990)(citations omitted). The
authority to grant a new trial is "confided almost
entirely to the exercise of discretion on the part of the
trial court." Allied Chem. Corp. v. Daiflon,
Inc., 449 U.S. 33, 36 (1980).
Stewart requests that, "any and all objections that
pertain to this case, both pre-trial and trial, not
sustained, with emphasis on those pertaining to dismissal of
supervisory Defendants, dismissal of other counts that
complete the story, and jury instructions and the verdict
form." (Doc. 181 at 1.) He provides not facts or legal
arguments in support of his motion.
Court does not find that the jury's verdict was contrary
to the clear weight of the evidence and there is no
indication that the verdict was based upon false evidence or
that the jury instructions were erroneous. The Court sees no
basis to overturn the jury's verdict.
upon the foregoing, the Court issues the following:
Stewart's Motion for a Judgment as a Matter of Law or a