United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division
Morris, United States District Court Judge.
Court conducted a trial in this matter on May 13, 2019
through May 15, 2019. (Docs. 78, 82, 83.) The jury returned a
verdict on May 15, 2019. (Doc. 92.) The jury found Amtrak
partially liable for the injury sustained by Plaintiff
Jessica Cantrell (“Cantrell”). The jury
apportioned 75% of the negligence to Cantrell, however, and
25% of the negligence to Amtrak. The jury's apportionment
of negligence eliminated any need for the jury to consider
the amount of damages to be awarded to Cantrell. The Court
entered final judgment in this matter on May 16, 2019. (Doc.
93.) Cantrell filed a Motion for a New Trial on May 31, 2019.
(Doc. 95.) Amtrak filed its Response in opposition to the
Motion on June 4, 2019. (Doc. 97.) This Order addresses each
of Cantrell's arguments in turn.
may make a motion for a new trial pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
59(a). Rule 59(a) “does not specify the grounds on
which a motion for a new trial may be granted.”
Molski v. M.J. Cable, Inc., 481 F.3d 724, 729
(citing Zhang v. AM. Gem Seafoods, Inc., 339 F.3d
1020, 1035 (9th Cir. 2003)). A district court possesses
discretion to order a new trial under Rule 59 if “the
verdict is contrary to the clear weight of the
evidence.” Murphy v. City of Long Beach, 914
F.2d 183, 187 (9th Cir. 1990). A verdict proves contrary to
the weight of the evidence if “the damages are
excessive, or that, for other reasons, the trial was not fair
to the moving party.” Molski, 481 F.3d at 729
(citing Montgomery Ward & Co. v. Duncan, 311
U.S. 243, 251 (1940).
asserts the following arguments regarding whether the jury
verdict proved contrary to the weight of the evidence: (1)
Amtrak presented inconsistent conclusions regarding the
weather data; (2) Amtrak presented evidence not disclosed in
their damage expert's report; (3) Amtrak presented the
jury with false arguments and evidence; and (4) the Court
presented the jury with an improper jury instruction.
asserts that the Court improperly took judicial notice of
weather data (hereafter “Exhibit 502”) for a
location 24 miles away from Wolf Point. (Doc. 96 at 4.) The
Court took judicial notice of Exhibit 502 described as the
“Wolf Point McDonalds surface/atmospheric
history.” Cantrell raised no objection to the
Court's decision to take judicial notice of the data.
Cantrell likewise raised no objection to the admission of
Exhibit 502 into evidence. Cantrell now argues that she
assumed that the weather data was taken from Wolf Point,
rather than from the weather station 24 miles north of Wolf
Point. Cantrell argues that she based her assumption on the
fact that a McDonald's restaurant exists near the Amtrak
station. (Doc. 96 at 2.) Cantrell asks the Court to now view
the Wolf Point Airport weather data as a reflection of the
accurate weather conditions. Id. at 5.
investigation by Cantrell should have revealed that the
weather data was not taken from the McDonald's restaurant
in Wolf Point. Such an investigation would have revealed that
the data contained in Exhibit 502 was taken from the weather
station 24 miles away. An objection to the weather data would
have been appropriate before the Court admitted the evidence.
Cantrell did not raise such an objection.
further failed to ask the Court to take judicial notice of
the Wolf Point Airport weather data at trial. Cantrell's
request for the Court to take judicial notice of this data
would have been appropriate before or during trial. The Court
may not take post-trial notice of this evidence.
further asserts that Amtrak argued inconsistent positions
regarding the judicially noticed weather data. (Doc. 96 at
11.) Cantrell argues that Amtrak used the weather data to
demonstrate that no precipitation existed before Ms.
Cantrell's fall. Id. Cantrell argues that Amtrak
then took the inconsistent position that the weather data was
inaccurate to prove an “ice watch.” Id.
asserted at trial that Exhibit 502 determined that no
precipitation fell for the 23 days before the Amtrak's
train's arrival in Wolf Point on January 24, 2016. Amtrak
then asserted that Exhibit 502 demonstrated that an
“ice watch” meant merely that ice was forming 24
miles away. Cantrell failed to object to this evidence.
Cantrell further failed to object to the jury instruction
regarding the Court's judicial notice of Exhibit 502.
Cantrell has waived her right to assert this objection.
See Zhang, 339 F.3d at 1035. Cantrell's request
for a new trial pursuant to Amtrak's use of the McDonalds
surface/atmospheric history must be denied.
Court limited the admission of Cantrell's pre-accident
medical history. (Doc. 78.) The Court determined that
Cantrell's choice to assert an established course of life
damage claim opened the door to the admission of limited
medical history evidence. Cantrell asserts that Amtrak
presented evidence that it did not disclose in its damage
expert's report. (Doc. 96 at 11.) Cantrell argues that
Dr. Goler testified improperly that Cantrell should have
received injection therapy ...