United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL
Victoria A. Roberts, United States District Judge
I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
Jeffrey Aaron, a prisoner confined in the Michigan Department
of Corrections (“MDOC”), filed this case pro
se against seven MDOC employees, alleging that they
retaliated against him for filing grievances in violation of
his First Amendment rights. After the Court ruled on
dispositive motions, Aaron retained Solomon Radner as
case proceeded to trial in January 2017 against the four
remaining Defendants - Jackie Dyer, Rennia Funches, Kelly
Holden and Richard Cady. With consent of the parties,
Magistrate Judge David R. Grand conducted voir dire
(i.e., jury selection) on January 9, 2017. On January 12, the
jury returned a verdict in favor of Defendants, finding no
cause of action. The Court entered judgment to that effect on
January 31, 2017, Aaron filed a pro se Motion for
New Trial pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59.
[Doc. 102]. On July 6, 2017, well after the motion had been
fully briefed, Aaron filed a supplemental pleading with
additional evidence that he says he recently discovered.
following reasons, Aaron's Motion for New Trial [Doc.
102] is DENIED.
Aaron May Proceed Pro Se
say the Court should strike Aaron's motion because he
filed it himself rather than having counsel file it on his
behalf. In his reply brief, Aaron says he has been
representing himself since the jury verdict. Therefore, Aaron
may proceed without counsel, and the Court will not strike
Radner and his co-counsel are still listed on the docket as
counsel of record for Aaron. So that the docket accurately
indicates that Aaron is pro se, the Court
TERMINATES Radner and his co-counsel as
Aaron's active counsel of record.
Aaron's Motion for New Trial
Court may grant a new trial under Rule 59 “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). “The language of Rule 59(a) has been
interpreted to mean that a new trial is warranted when a jury
has reached a ‘seriously erroneous' result as
evidenced by: (1) the verdict being against the weight of the
evidence; (2) the damages being excessive; or (3) the trial
being unfair to the moving party in some fashion, i.e., the
proceedings being influenced by prejudice or bias.”
E.E.O.C. v. New Breed Logistics, 783 F.3d 1057, 1066
(6th Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). The Court has broad
discretion in deciding whether to grant a new trial.
Clark v. Esser, 907 F.Supp. 1069, 1073 (E.D. Mich.
1995). However, a motion for new trial may not be granted
unless the moving party establishes that he or she suffered
prejudice. Simmons v. Napier, 626 Fed.Appx. 129, 132
(6th Cir. 2015).
says he is entitled to a new trial because: (1) he presented
evidence proving he was moved in retaliation for filing
grievances; (2) Defendant Dyer gave false testimony and is
not credible, “as the truth of the matter was as stated
in Plaintiff's grievance, ” [Doc. 102, PgID 1006];
(3) the jury had a right to know about a “sham
affidavit” and false testimony Defendant Holden gave in
another case; (4) the jury should have known that every
Defendant has been sued by other prisoners for their conduct
involving similar issues; (5) the jury should have heard the
testimony of two prison inspectors, and they should have
known that he would have called them as witnesses if
Defendants would not have indicated they planned to call them
as witnesses; and (6) the jury was tainted.
The Verdict is Supported by Sufficient Evidence
says the Court should grant a new trial because he proved his
case - i.e., that Defendants retaliated against him for
engaging in protected conduct.
argue that Aaron cannot challenge the sufficiency of the
evidence because, although Aaron orally moved for directed
verdict during trial, his failure to attach the trial
transcript to his motion prevents the Court from determining
“what issues, if any, were preserved by that
motion.” [Doc. 104, PgID 1021]. In making this
argument, Defendants rely on S. Ry. Co. v. Miller,
285 F.2d 202 (6th Cir. 1960), for the proposition that
“the question of the sufficiency of the evidence to
support the jury's ...