United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Raymond A. Jacfcson Judge
the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for a New Trial and
Renewed Motion for Judgment as to Liability, or In the
Alternative, for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict
pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 50(b) and 59.
ECF No. 994. Having reviewed the Parties' pleadings, the
Court finds this matter ripe for judicial disposition. A
hearing will not aid in the decisional process. For the
reasons discussed below, the Court DENIES Plaintiffs'
Motion for a New Trial and Renewed Motion for Judgment as to
Liability, or In the Alternative, for Judgment
Notwithstanding the Verdict.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
jury trial for this matter began on March 29, 2016. On April
14, 2016, after a twelve day trial, the jury returned a
verdict in favor of the Defendants on the breach of contract
claim and against Defendant Mid-Atlantic Military Family
Communities, LLC on the negligence per se claim. The jury
awarded Plaintiff Joe Federico $200, 000 and Plaintiff
Shelley Federico $150, 000 dollars for the negligence per se
was entered on April 19, 2016. ECF No. 983. Plaintiffs then
timely filed the instant motion on May 17, 2016. ECF No. 994.
Defendants filed their Response in Opposition on June 3,
2016. ECF No. 1004.
Motion for a New Trial
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides the district
court with discretion to grant a new trial on all or some of
the issues previously tried. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(a)(1). On
motion, the court may grant a new trial "after a jury
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). A motion pursuant to Rule 59 is
considered timely filed only if filed no later than 28 days
after the entry of judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(b). A
"decision on a motion for a new trial rests within the
sound discretion of the trial court." City of
Richmond v. Atlantic Co., 273 F.2d 902, 916 (4th Cir.
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
("Fourth Circuit") requires that a district court
grant a new trial pursuant to Rule 59 only if "(1) the
verdict is against the clear weight of the evidence, or (2)
is based upon evidence which is false, or (3) will result in
a miscarriage of justice, even though there may be
substantial evidence which would prevent the direction of a
verdict." Cline v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 144
F.3d 294, 301 (4th Cir. 1998) (quoting Atlas FoodSys.
& Servs., Inc. v. Crane Nat'l Vendors, Inc., 99
F.3d 587, 594 (4th Cir. 1996)) (internal quotation marks
omitted). Prongs one and two require the court to make
factual determinations. Fairshter v. American Nat'l
Red Cross, 322 F.Supp.2d 646, 650 (E.D. Va. 2004)
(citing Atlas FoodSys. Servs., Inc., 99 F.3d at
594). The final prong "requires a policy analysis under
which the 'judge's unique vantage point and
day-to-day experience with such matters lend
expertise.'" Id., (quoting Atlas
FoodSys. Servs., Inc., 99 F.3d at 594).
a court ruling on a Rule 50 motion for judgment as a matter
of law, a court faced with a motion for a new trial pursuant
to Rule 59, "may make credibility judgments in
determining the clear weight of the evidence."
Lovell v. BBNT Solutions, LLC, 295 F.Supp.2d 611,
618 (E.D. Va. 2003) (citing Knussman v. Maryland,
272 F.3d 625, 647 (4th Cir. 2001)). On review, "[a]
district court's denial of a motion for a new trial is
reviewed for abuse of discretion and will not be reversed
'save in the most exceptional circumstances.'"
Minter v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 762 F.3d 339, 346
(4th Cir. 2014) (quoting FDIC v. Bakkebo, 506 F.3d
286, 294 (4th Cir. 2007)).
Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law and Alternative Motion
for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict
to Rule 50(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law if "a
party has been fully heard on an issue during a jury trial
and the court finds that a reasonable jury would not have a
legally sufficient evidentiary basis to find for the party on
that issue." Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a)(1). Where the Court
finds judgment as a matter of law appropriate, the Court may
resolve the issue against the party and "grant a motion
for judgment as a matter of law against the party on a claim
or defense that, under controlling law, can be maintained or
defeated only with a favorable finding on that issue."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a)(1)(B). The motion "may be made at any
time before or after the case is submitted to the jury ...
[and] must specify the judgment sought and the law and facts
that entitle the movant to the judgment." Fed.R.Civ.P.
50(a)(2). Where the court does not grant a motion for
judgment as a matter of law during trial, the movant may,
within 28 days after the entry of judgment-or if the motion
addresses a jury issue not decided by verdict, no later than
28 days after the jury was discharged-file a renewed motion
for judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b). The
movant may also include an alternative or joint request for a
new trial under Rule 59. Id.
considering the motion for judgment as a matter of law, the
court reviews the evidence in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party. Fontenot v. Taser Int'l, Inc.,
736 F.3d 318, 332 (4th Cir. 2013); Chaudhry v.
Gallerizzo, 174 F.3d 394, 404-05 (4th Cir. 1999).
Further, "Judgment as a matter of law is proper when,
without weighing the credibility of the evidence, there can
be but one reasonable conclusion as to the proper
judgment." Chaudhry, 174 F.3d at 405 (internal
quotation marks omitted) (quoting Price v. City of
Charlotte, 93 F.3d 1241, 1249 (4th Cir. 1996)).
"The movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law
if the nonmoving party failed to make a showing on an
essential element of his case with respect to which he had
the burden of proof." Singer v. Dungan, 45 F.3d
823, 827 (4th Cir. 1995) (internal quotation marks omitted)
(quoting Bryan v. James E. Holmes Regional Medical
Ctr., 33 F.3d 1318, 1333 (11th Cir. 1994)).
renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law, the essential
question before the court becomes whether substantial
evidence supports the jury's findings. Konkel v. Bob
Evans Farms, Inc., 165 F.3d 275, 279 (4th Cir. 1999). In
deciding whether a party is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law the Court must not weigh the evidence or make
credibility determinations and must draw all inferences in
favor of the non-movant. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing
Prod. Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000); Murdaugh
Volkswagen, Inc., v. First Nat'l Bank, 801 F.2d 719,
725 (4th Cir. 1986). If "the evidence as a whole is
susceptible of more than one reasonable inference, a jury
issue is created and a motion for judgment as a matter of law
should be denied." Fontenot v. Taser Int'l,
Inc., 736 F.3d 318, 332 (4th Cir. 2013) (quoting
Myrick v. Prime Ins. Syndicate, Inc., 395 F.3d 485,
489-90 (4th Cir. 2005)) (internal quotation marks omitted).