United States District Court, D. Idaho
SHAWN A. MOORE and DEDE JARDINE,, Plaintiffs,
DEER VALLEY TRUCKING, INC., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Lynn Winmill, Chief U.S. District Court
Court has before it Plaintiffs' Motion for Liquidated
Damages (Dkt. 67), Defendant's Motion for Judgment as a
Matter of Law and Alternative Motion for a New Trial (Dkt.
76), and Defendant's Motion to Strike (Dkt. 78). These
motions have been fully briefed for more than 3 years, but
the case has also been stayed for that long because of a
bankruptcy filing. The Court understands that the bankruptcy
was recently dismissed, so the motions are now ripe for
Rule 50 Motion
Valley Trucking (“DVT”) asks for judgment as a
matter of law. The motion is a renewed Rule 50 request. The
same legal standard applies to a renewed motion for a
directed verdict as to the original motion. Under Rule 50(b),
when a court does not grant a motion for judgment as a matter
of law made under Rule 50(a), the court is considered to have
submitted the action to the jury subject to the court's
later deciding the legal questions raised by the motion.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b). The party may then file a renewed motion
for judgment as a matter of law. Id.
as a matter of law is appropriate when the evidence presented
at trial permits only one reasonable conclusion.”
Torres v. City of Los Angeles, 548 F.3d 1197, 1205
(9th Cir.2008) (internal citation omitted). Thus, “[a]
motion for a judgment as a matter of law is properly granted
only if no reasonable juror could find in the non-moving
party's favor.” Id. (Internal citation
omitted). Evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable
to the nonmoving party, with all reasonable inferences drawn
in favor of that party. Id. at 1205-06. Judgment as
a matter of law is not appropriate if conflicting inferences
may be drawn from the facts. LaLonde v. Cnty. of
Riverside, 204 F.3d 947, 959 (9th Cir.2000).
renews its Rule 50 motion on the grounds that the plaintiffs
were not exempt from the Motor Carrier Act because they were
loaders. DVT gives very little argument other than to
reincorporate its arguments made at trial. For the same
reasons stated at trial, the Court will deny the motion. The
Court instructed the jury on the definition of a loader.
Jury Inst. 15, Dkt. 66. In part, that definition
explained that an employee does not fall within the exemption
for a loader merely because he furnishes physical assistance
when necessary in loading heavy pieces of freight, or because
he deposits pieces of freight in the vehicle for someone else
to distribute and secure in place. Id. As the Court
explained when it denied the Rule 50 motion at trial,
construing the evidence in a light most favorable to the
plaintiffs, there was clear evidence that the plaintiffs
connected the hoses from the fracking tank to the pod,
possibly a hose to the pod which then the truckers connected
to the truck. And plaintiffs were instructed not to touch the
truck. Under these circumstances, there was an issue of fact
for the jury to conclude whether that kind of conduct
constituted loading and involved the exercise of discretion
to ensure the safe operation of the trucks on the interstate
highways. The jury later made its determination, which was
supported by the evidence. Accordingly, the renewed Rule 50
motion will be denied.
Rule 59 Motion
59(a) states that the Court may grant a new trial on all or
some of the issues, and to any party, “after a jury
trial, for any reason for which a new trail has heretofore
been granted in an action at law in federal court.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(a). The Ninth Circuit has not specified the
grounds on which a motion for a new trial may be granted.
Molski v. M.J. Cable, Inc., 481 F.3d 724, 729 (9th
Cir. 2007). Instead, “the court is bound by those
grounds that have been historically recognized.”
Id. (Internal citation and quotation omitted). Those
“grounds include, but are not limited to, claims that
the verdict is against the weight of the evidence, that the
damages are excessive, or that, for other reasons, the trial
was not fair to the party moving.” Id.
(Internal quotation and citation omitted).
standard set forth by the Ninth Circuit is that “[t]he
trial court may grant a new trial only if the verdict is
contrary to the clear weight of the evidence, is based upon
false or perjurious evidence, or to prevent a miscarriage of
justice.” Id. (Internal quotation and citation
omitted). Thus, “[u]pon the Rule 59 motion of the party
against whom a verdict has been returned, the district court
has the duty . . . to weigh the evidence as [the court] saw
it, and to set aside the verdict of the jury, even though
supported by substantial evidence, where, in [the
court's] conscientious opinion, the verdict is contrary
to the clear weight of the evidence.” Id.
(Brackets in original)(Internal quotation and citation
as to Plaintiff Jardine, DVT argues that there was no
evidence supporting Jardine's damages based upon her
hours worked. However, as the Court ruled at trial, DVT had a
duty to maintain records of Jardine's hours. The evidence
showed that DVT failed to do that. Thus Jardine was left in a
position where she had to recreate a past work history, which
she did and presented to the jury. The jury could have based
its decision on her testimony, which is sufficient to let the
next appears to simply reassert its Rule 50 argument that
both Jardine and Moore were not loaders. For the same reasons
the Court denied that argument on the Rule 50 motion, the
request is denied as to the Rule 59 motion - as explained
above, there was sufficient evidence for the jury to
determine that both Jardine and Moore were loaders.
Motion for ...