United States District Court, D. Idaho
TIMOTHY SWOPE and MARLA SWOPE, individually and on behalf of B.S., and DENISE COOMBS, individually and on behalf of O.C., Plaintiffs,
ONEIDA SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 351, a county school district; DAVID RISENMAY, in his individual and official capacities; TERRI SORENSEN, in her individual and official capacities, and KERRY EVANS, in her individual and official capacities, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
C. NYE, CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Judgment as a
Matter of Law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50.
Defendants raised this motion on May 6, 2019, following the
conclusion of Plaintiffs' case in chief. After hearing
argument from both sides, the Court took the motion under
advisement. As set forth more fully below, the Court GRANTS
in PART and DENIES in PART Defendants' Motion for
Judgment as a Matter of Law, and defers ruling on any other
claims until the conclusion of trial.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
general background of this case is set forth in Judge Mark.
W. Bennett's prior Order. Dkt. 80, at 5-21. The Court
incorporates that background by reference here.
for judgment as a matter of law are properly brought under
Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 50(a)
reads, in part:
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, the court may:
(A) resolve the issue against the party; and
(B) grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law against
the party on a claim or defense that, under the controlling
law, can be maintained or defeated only with a favorable
finding on that issue.
(2) A motion for judgment as a matter of law may be made at
any time before the case is submitted to the jury.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(a).
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); see also Summers v. Delta Air Lines, Inc.,
508 F.3d 923, 926 (9th Cir. 2007) (“Rule 50(a) . . .
allows a court to remove issues- claims, defenses, or entire
cases-from the jury when there is no legally sufficient
evidentiary basis to support a particular outcome.”)
(punctuation and citations omitted).
must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party, with all reasonable inferences drawn in favor of that
party. Torres, 548 F.3d 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).
moved for judgment as a matter of law on most of
Plaintiffs' claims. Other than the specific claims
analyzed below, the Court defers ruling on Plaintiffs'
other claims until the conclusion of trial.
initial matter, the Court notes that Judge Bennett's
prior order (Dkt. 80, at 103-07) found that Defendants
Risenmay, Sorensen, and Evans could not be held individually
liable on Plaintiffs' federal claims. That decision
stands, and federal claims against these Defendants in their
individual capacity will not be submitted to the jury.
relates to Plaintiffs' federal claims against the
District, the Court defers ruling on Defendants' Motion
until the conclusion of trial.
Child Abuse claims are brought under Idaho Code §
6-1701. This provision creates four tort causes of action in
child abuse cases, defining them by incorporating criminal
statutes by reference. In this case, Plaintiffs allege that
the District committed the tort of injury to a child under
Idaho Code § 6-1701(4), which defines the ...