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Rumanek v. Independent School Management, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

June 3, 2014

SANDRA RUMANEK, Plaintiff,
v.
INDEPENDENT SCHOOL MANAGEMENT, INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

SHERRY R. FALLON, Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Presently before the court in this retaliation action brought under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq., the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq., the Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act ("DDEA"), 19 Del. C. § 711, et seq., and the Delaware Persons with Disabilities Employment Protections Act ("DPDEP"), 19 Del. C. § 720, et seq., is the motion for judgment as a matter of law and/or for a new trial filed by plaintiff Sandra Rumanek ("Rumanek" or "plaintiff'). (D.I. 155) For the following reasons, the court denies the motion.[1]

II. BACKGROUND

The facts of this matter are set forth more fully in the court's January 10, 2014 memorandum opinion on summary judgment. (D.I. 139) A jury trial was held from January 13 to January 16, 2014. On January 16, 2014, the jury returned a verdict in favor of defendant Independent School Management, Inc. ("ISM" or "defendant"). (D.I. 147) The court entered judgment in favor of defendant on January 27, 2014. (D.I. 150) Plaintiff filed the present motion on February 24, 2014. (D.I. 155)

III. DISCUSSION

A. Judgment as a Matter of Law

Plaintiff's post-trial motion for judgment as a matter of law is foreclosed because she did not move for judgment as a matter of law before the case was submitted to the jury, as required by Rule 50. See Brown v. Grass, 544 F.Appx. 81, 85 (3d Cir. Oct. 31, 2013); Easter v. Grassi, 51 F.Appx. 84, 87 (3d Cir. 2002); Greenleaf v. Garlock, Inc., 174 F.3d 352, 364 (3d Cir. 1999) ("It is well settled that a party who does not file a Rule 50 motion for judgment as a matter of law at the end of the evidence is not thereafter entitled to have judgment entered in its favor notwithstanding an adverse verdict on the ground that there is insufficient evidence to support the verdict."). Rule 50(a)(2) provides that "[a] motion for judgment as a matter of law may be made at any time before the case is submitted to the jury. The motion must specify the judgment sought and the law and facts that entitle the movant to the judgment." Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a)(2) (emphasis added). "The purpose of the specificity requirement of Rule 50(a)(2) is to provide notice to a party of potential defects in its proofs in time for that party to cure those defects." Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. v. Schering Plough Corp., 166 F.Supp.2d 19, 30 (D.N.J. 2001) (citing Acosta v. Honda Motor Co., Ltd., 717 F.2d 828, 831-32 (3d Cir. 1983)).

Rule 50(b) provides for the filing of a renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law after the entry of judgment, which may be made only "[i]f the court does not grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law made under Rule 50(a)." Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b). "The failure to abide by Rule 50's procedural requirements wholly waives the right to mount any post-trial attack on the sufficiency of the evidence, ' including on appeal." Brown, 544 F.Appx. at 85 (quoting Yohannon v. Keene Corp., 924 F.2d 1255, 1262 (3d Cir. 1991)).

At the close of evidence, the court offered the parties an opportunity to submit motions. (1/16/14 Tr. at 71:22-72:5) Neither party submitted a motion.[2] Therefore, plaintiff is foreclosed from moving for judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50(b). The court next considers plaintiff's motion for a new trial under Rule 59.

B. New Trial

The decision to grant or deny a new trial is within the sound discretion of the trial court and, unlike the standard for determining judgment as a matter of law, the court need not view the evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party. See Allied Chern. Corp. v. Daiflon, Inc., 449 U.S. 33, 36 (1980). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(a)(1) provides, in pertinent part:

The court may, on motion, grant a new trial on all or some of the issues-and to any party-as follows: (A) after a jury trial, for any reason for which a new trial has heretofore been granted in an action at law in federal court.[3]

New trials are commonly granted in the following situations: (1) where the jury's verdict is against the clear weight of the evidence, and a new trial must be granted to prevent a miscarriage of justice; (2) where newly-discovered evidence surfaces that would likely alter the outcome of the trial; (3) where improper conduct by an attorney or the court unfairly influenced the verdict; or (4) where the jury's verdict was facially inconsistent. See Zarow-Smith v. N.J. Transit Rail Operations, Inc., 953 F.Supp. 581, 584 (D.N.J. 1997) (citations omitted). The court, however, must proceed cautiously and avoid substituting its own judgment of the facts and assessment of the witnesses' credibility for the jury's independent evaluation. See Klein v. Hollings, 992 F.2d 1285, 1290 (3d Cir. 1993). A court should grant a new trial in a jury ...


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