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Atsalis Brothers Painting Co. v. Carboline Co.

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

December 8, 2017

ATSALIS BROTHERS PAINTING COMPANY, Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant,
v.
CARBOLINE COMPANY, Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff.

         ORDER: (1) DENYING DEFENDANT'S RENEWED MOTION FOR JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW [Docs. 85, 87]; (2) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL OR REMITTITUR ON COUNTERCLAIM [Doc. 90]; AND (3) GRANTING BOTH PARTIES' MOTIONS TO AMEND JUDGMENT TO INCLUDE PREJUDGMENT INTEREST [Docs. 89, 91]

          VICTORIA A. ROBERTS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant Atsalis Brothers Painting Company (“Atsalis”) filed this suit in June 2015 alleging, inter alia, breach of contract and breach of contractual warranty against Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff Carboline Company (“Carboline”). Carboline filed a counterclaim for breach of contract related to unpaid invoices.

         On April 24, 2017, the case proceeded to a jury trial. Atsalis rested its case in chief on May 2. Before proceeding with its case in chief, Carboline orally moved for judgment as a matter of law on Atsalis's claims. The Court denied Carboline's motion.

         On May 5, 2017, the jury returned its verdict, finding that Carboline and Atsalis both breached their agreement. The jury awarded Atsalis $2, 825, 791.81 for Carboline's breach, and awarded Carboline $545, 000 for Atsalis's breach. The Court entered judgment in accordance with the jury's verdict on May 12, 2017.

         The following motions are before the Court: (1) Carboline's Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law [Docs. 85, 87]; (2) Atsalis's Motion for New Trial or Remittitur on Counterclaim [Doc. 90]; (3) Atsalis's Motion to Amend Judgment to Include Prejudgment Interest [Doc. 89]; and (4) Carboline's Motion to Amend Judgment to Include Prejudgment Interest [Doc. 91].

         As set forth below, the Court: (1) DENIES Carboline's Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law; (2) DENIES Atsalis's Motion for New Trial or Remittitur on Counterclaim; and (3) GRANTS both Motions to Amend Judgment to Include Prejudgment Interest.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Carboline's Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law

         Under Rule 50(a)(1), the Court may grant judgment as a matter of law on an issue if it “finds that a reasonable jury would not have a legally sufficient evidentiary basis to find for the party on that issue.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a)(1). If denied, a movant may renew its motion for judgment as a matter of law after entry of judgment under Rule 50(b). In diversity cases, the Court “applies the forum state's substantive standard for determining when judgment as a matter of law is appropriate.” Caterpillar Inc. v. R & R Steel Const. Co., No. 2:10-cv-21, 2012 WL 3811794, at *1 (W.D. Mich. Sept. 4, 2012).

         “In Michigan, for a party to be entitled to judgment as a matter of law after an adverse jury verdict, the evidence, when viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, must fail to establish a claim as a matter of law.” Id. Thus, judgment as a matter of law is appropriate only when the evidence shows “there is no genuine issue of material fact for the jury, and reasonable minds could come to but one conclusion, in favor of the moving party.” Noble v. Brinker Int'l, Inc., 391 F.3d 715, 720 (6th Cir. 2004) (citation omitted); see also Reeser v. Henry Ford Health Sys., No. 14-cv-11916, 2016 WL 4386119, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Aug. 17, 2016) (“If reasonable jurors could have honestly reached different conclusions, the jury's verdict must stand.” (citation omitted)).

         Carboline argues it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law because: (1) Atsalis failed to establish the elements of a breach of contract under Michigan law; (2) Atsalis's alleged damages are speculative and not recoverable under Michigan law; and (3) a limitation-of-liability provision barred Atsalis from recovering monetary damages.

         1. Carboline is Not Entitled to Judgment as a Matter of Law on ...


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