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Hair Club For Men, LLC v. Ehson

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

November 14, 2016

Hair Club for Men, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
Lailuma Ehson and Illusion Day Spa, LLC, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Liam O'Grady United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendants Lailuma Ehson and Illusion Day Spa's Motion for New Trial or in the Alternative, a Remittitur, Dkt. No. 147, and Plaintiff Hair Club for Men's ("Hair Club") Motion for Permanent Injunction. Dkt. No. 149. For the reasons discussed below, Defendants' Motion for New Trial or Remittitur is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART and Plaintiffs Motion for Permament Injunction is GRANTED.

         I. Background

         The factual background of this case has been well documented in the Court's previous orders and only facts relevant for these Motions are repeated here. See, e.g., Dkt. No. 113. The jury entered a verdict in favor of the Plaintiff on all counts on September 27, 2016. The special verdict form awarded Plaintiff $156, 096 on the Breach of Contract Claim ("Count 1") and awarded $258, 330 for each of Plaintiff s Misappropriation of Trade Secrets claim ("Count 2"), wrongful interference with contract claim ("Count 3"), and Breach of Fiduciary Duty claims ("Count 6"). The Jury also responded "Yes" to the question whether "any of the answers to Question 1, 3, 5, or 6 [are] duplicative."[1]

         Defendants timely moved for a new trial, or in the alternative a remittitur, alleging that the total damage award of $934, 086 exceeds the amount requested by Plaintiff at trial of $511, 090 and was contrary to the evidence. Plaintiff has filed an objection to this motion and moved for a permanent injunction to enforce its non-compete rights under its contract with Defendant, Lailuma Ehson. Defendants have not objected to the permanent injunction per se but seek modification of the duration and scope of the injunctive relief. The matter was fully briefed by the parties and the Court heard arguments on November 4, 2016.

         II. Legal Standard

         A. Rule 59 - Motion for New Trial or Remittur

         "Under Rule 59(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a court may order a new trial nisi remittitur if it 'concludes that a jury award of compensatory damages is excessive.'" Jones v. Southpeak Interactive Corp. of Delaware, 111 F.3d 658, 672 (4th Cir. 2015) (quoting Shane v. Equifax Info. Servs., LLC, 510 F.3d 495, 502 (4th Cir. 2007)). "A new trial will be granted 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., 144F.3d294, 301 (4th Cir. 1998) (quoting Atlas Food Sys. &Servs., Inc. v. Crane Nat'l Vendors, Inc., 99 F.3d 587, 594 (4th Cir. 1996)).

         There is no specific standard for remittitur under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, but it is well established that a remittitur should be ordered when a jury award is so excessive that it will result in a miscarriage of justice. Cline, 144 F.3d at 305. The decision as to whether damages are excessive is "entrusted to the sound discretion of the district court." Robles v. Prince George's Cty., Md, 302 F.3d 262, 271 (4th Cir. 2002).

         B. Permanent Injunction

         A plaintiff seeking a permanent injunction must satisfy a four-factor test before the court may grant this type of relief. eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C., 547 U.S. 388, 391 (2006). In order to prevail, a plaintiff must show: (1) it has suffered an irreparable injury; (2) legal remedies are inadequate to compensate for that injury; (3) after balancing the hardships of the plaintiff and defendant, a remedy in equity is necessary; and (4) that the public interest would not be harmed by a permanent injunction. Id.

         III. Discussion

         The Court first considers the appropriateness of a remittitur or modification to the damages award before turning to scope of the permanent injunction.

         A. Modification ...


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