Submitted: August 2, 2019
Motion for a Judgment as a Matter of Law or a New Trial
GRANTED IN PART - DENIED IN PART
J. Baldwin, Esquire; Carla M. Jones, Esquire; Potter Anderson
& Corroon LLP. Attorneys for Plaintiff.
B. Goodwin, Esquire; Christine S. Haskett, Esquire; Nicholas
M. Lampros, Esquire; Rebecca A. Jacobs, Esquire; Covington
& Burling LLP, Attorneys for Plaintiff.
L. Reed, Esquire; Matthew Denn, Esquire; DLA Piper LLP,
Attorneys for Defendants.
Jonathan D. Mutch, Esquire; David E. Marder, Esquire; Matthew
P. Cardosi, Esquire; Robins Kaplan LLP. Attorneys for
William C. Carpenter, Jr. Judge.
the Court is Defendant Insurers' ("Defendants")
Motion for a Judgment as a Matter of Law or a New Trial.
Defendants' Motion relates to matters on which the Court
previously ruled in its decision on summary judgment, in the
various motions in limine, or at the trial. The
reasons for those decisions are set forth in those Opinions
or in the Court's comments during the trial. While the
Court appreciates that Defendants believe those decisions
were incorrect, with the exception of the issue of
electricity which the Court will discuss below, the Court is
convinced that there is no basis to change the jury's
verdict in this matter. Defendants were given a full
opportunity to present their case and to convince the jury
that their position as to Noranda's ("Plaintiff)
recovery was correct. This includes attempting to convince
the jury that no coverage was warranted due to the financial
difficulty facing Plaintiff. The jury decided to give more
credibility to the witnesses and experts of Plaintiff and
that was clearly within the jury's province to do.
Candidly, the Court is not surprised by the verdict in light
of testimony provided by Defendants' witnesses, which at
times displayed such an unfettered bias it undermined their
credibility. In any event, the Motion for a Judgment as a
Matter of Law or a New Trial will be denied except for the
changes noted further in this Opinion.
FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Court has rehashed the factual background of this case
several times in prior Opinions, and it will only provide a
brief recitation of the facts most relevant to the pending
litigation stems from a property insurance policy ("the
Policy") that Defendants issued to Plaintiff for the
period of May 18, 2015 to May 18, 2016. The Policy included
coverage for property damage and resulting time element
losses at Noranda's aluminum plant in New Madrid,
Missouri ("New Madrid Plant").
August 4, 2015, a casthouse explosion occurred at the New
Madrid Plant, "causing extensive property damage to the
facility and equipment, necessitating significant repair
costs, and resulting in lost revenue due to business
interruption while production was halted by the explosion and
the damage it caused." After the explosion, Noranda
tendered a claim to Defendants for the property damage and
time element losses purportedly caused by the
accident. However, Defendants refused to pay most of
Plaintiff s time element losses.
months later, on January 7, 2016, two of three potlines at
the New Madrid Plant froze due to a switchgear failure, which
also caused "a sizeable time element
loss." Plaintiff subsequently tendered another
claim to Defendants for the potline freeze, and the insurers
refused to make any payment for Noranda's related time
February 8, 2016, Noranda filed a petition for Chapter 11
bankruptcy.Approximately one month later, on March 12,
2016, Plaintiff idled the New Madrid Plant to comply with the
terms of its debtor-in-possession financing. In November
2016, Noranda ultimately sold the New Madrid Plant "as
part of a bankruptcy restructuring that resulted in the
liquidation of certain ... assets."
January 6, 2017, Plaintiff filed its Complaint against
Defendants, alleging that they "breached the Policies by
failing to make the required payments for Noranda's time
element losses." The parties went to trial, and on July 3,
2019, a jury awarded Noranda $14, 762, 187.00 in time element
damages for the casthouse explosion and $20, 727, 946.50 for
the potline freeze. As a result, Defendants have filed a
Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law or a New Trial.
MOTION FOR A JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW
Standard of Review
to Superior Court Civil Rule 50(b):
Whenever a motion for a judgment as a matter of law made at
the close of all the evidence is denied or for any reason is
not granted, the Court is deemed to have submitted the action
to the jury subject to a later determination of the legal
questions raised by the motion ... If a verdict was returned,
the Court may ... allow the judgment to stand or may reopen
the judgment and either order a new trial or direct the entry
of judgment as a matter of law.
Rule 50, this Court is required to view the evidence in a
light most favorable to the nonmoving party. In order to
grant Defendants' Motion, this Court must find that
'"there is no legally sufficient evidentiary basis
for a reasonable jury to find for'"
Plaintiff. Thus, "the factual findings of a
jury will not be disturbed if there is any competent
evidence upon which the verdict could reasonably be