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Aaron v. Tyluki

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

September 30, 2017

JEFFREY AARON, #275291, Plaintiff,
v.
JOHN TYLUKI, et al., Defendants.

          JOHN CORBETT O'MEARA DISTRICT JUDGE

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL [DOC. #95]

          R. STEVEN WHALEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This case was tried to a jury on Plaintiff Jeffrey Aaron's First Amendment claim of retaliation by Michigan Department of Corrections employees John Tyluki and Dean Dyer. On December 8, 2016, the jury found no cause of action, and on January 17, 2017, the Court entered judgment in favor of the Defendants. Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for New Trial under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59 [Doc. #95]. For the reasons discussed below, the Motion will be DENIED.

         I. Plaintiff's Motion

         In his motion, Plaintiff “asserts that based on his overwhelming evidence and witnesses a different outcome should [have] been given.” He argues that the verdict was against the great weight of the evidence:

“Plaintiff contends that the jury based their verdict off the belief that a prisoner has no rights and the even if all of what they heard during testimony is true, Plaintiff believes that they based their verdict because he his a prisoner. ‘Because the verdict was against the great weight of the evidence.'”

         II. Standard of Review

         Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(a) provides that following a jury verdict, the court may grant a new trial “for any of the reasons for which new trials have heretofore been granted in actions at law in the courts of the United States.” In Montgomery Ward & Co. v. Duncan, 311 U.S. 243, 251, 61 S.Ct. 189, 85 L.Ed. 147 (1940), the Supreme Court held that “motion for new trial may invoke the discretion of the court in so far as it is bottomed on the claim 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 moving party.” The grant or denial of a motion for new trial under Rule 59(a) is addressed to the court's broad discretion, J.C. Wyckoff & Assoc. v. Standard Fire Ins. Co., 936 F.2d 1474, 1487 (6th Cir.1991) (quoting Logan v. Dayton Hudson Corp., 865 F.2d 789, 790 (6th Cir.1989)).

         However, where a Rule 59 motion asks a court to set aside or modify a jury verdict that was grounded in properly admitted evidence, a court must proceed cautiously, with due deference to the parties' Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial. In Duncan v. Duncan, 377 F.2d 49, 54 (6th Cir.1967), the Sixth Circuit cautioned:

“Where no undesirable or pernicious element had occurred or been introduced into the trial and the trial judge nonetheless grants a new trial on the ground that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence, the trial judge in negating the jury's verdict has, to some extent at least, substituted his judgment of the facts and the credibility of the witnesses for that of the jury. Such an action effects a denigration of the jury system and to the extent that new trials are granted the judge takes over, if he does not usurp, the prime function of the jury as the trier of facts.”

(quoting Lind v. Schenley Indus., Inc., 278 F.2d 79, 90 (3d Cir.1960) (en banc)).

         Likewise, the Sixth Circuit in Denhof v. City of Grand Rapids, 494 F.3d 534, 543-44 (6th Cir.2007), stated:

“In considering a motion for a new trial on the ground that the verdict is against the weight of the evidence, the court is not to set aside the verdict simply because it believes that another outcome is more justified.... The court is to accept the jury's verdict if it is one which reasonably could have been reached.... To put it more succinctly, this court will overturn a grant of a motion for a new trial on the basis that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence where it is clear that the jury verdict was reasonable.” (Citations and internal quotes omitted).

         III. ...


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