United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
KENNETH J. BOUCHARD, Plaintiff,
CITY OF WARREN, Defendant.
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S RENEWED MOTION FOR
JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW [#87]
Page Hood Chief Judge, United States District Court
trial in this matter commenced on August 28, 2017, and it
concluded on September 6, 2017. On September 6, 2017, the
jury returned a verdict in favor of Defendant and against
Plaintiff on all counts. The Court then denied as moot
Defendant's oral and written motions for judgment as a
matter of law and Plaintiff's oral motion for judgment as
a matter of law. [Dkt. No. 83] Plaintiff has filed a Renewed
Motion for Judgment as Matter of Law (“Renewed JMOL
Motion”) [Dkt. No. 87], and the Renewed JMOL Motion has
been fully briefed. For the reasons set forth below, the
Court denies the Renewed JMOL Motion.
filed this suit, alleging that Defendant interfered with his
rights to take medical leave pursuant to the Family and
Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq.
(“FMLA”). Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
refused to reinstate him to work prior to undergoing an
unlawful independent medical evaluation, such that Plaintiff
was constructively discharged.
trial, undisputed evidence was introduced that: (a) Plaintiff
first requested FMLA leave on June 19, 2014; (b) submitted a
physician's note on June 21, 2014; and (c) was approved
for FMLA leave on July 2, 2014. [Dkt. No. 87, Ex. 1 and 2
(Joint Trial Exhibits 19, 22, 23, 26)] On July 7, 2014, Phil
Easter, Human Resources director for Defendant in 2014
(“Mr. Easter”), sent Plaintiff a letter that
said: (1) Mr. Easter had received Plaintiff's July 7,
2014 email request that Plaintiff's FMLA leave be
extended through August 11, 2014; and (2) Mr. Easter was
approving FMLA leave for Plaintiff through August 8, 2014.
[Dkt. No. 87, Ex. 3 at PgID 2163]
undisputed evidence introduced at trial revealed that
Defendant (via letters prepared by Mr. Easter) advised
Plaintiff: (1) on June 20, 2014, that Plaintiff had to
“attend an evaluative session with Dr. Daniel Altier .
. . before you return to work;” (2) on July 3, 2014,
that Plaintiff had “to undergo a ‘fitness for
duty' evaluation prior to [his] return to work . .
.;” and (3) on July 8, 2014, that, “after your
physician has released you for work, you will be reinstated
to employment, but due to concerns which I previously stated
about your work place behavior, it will be necessary for you
to undergo a ‘fitness for duty' evaluation prior to
your actual return to duty.” [Dkt. No. 87, Ex. 3 (Joint
Trial Exhibits 21, 27, and 30, respectively)] Plaintiff
testified that “he did not feel he could return to work
without first undergoing this psychological
examination” and, because he would not undergo this
examination, he suffered a constructive discharge when he
resigned on August 1, 2014.
as a matter of law should be granted when “viewing the
evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party,
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.” Jordan v. City of
Cleveland, 464 F.3d 584, 594 (6th Cir. 2006) (citing
Noble v. Brinker Int'l, Inc., 391 F.3d 715, 720
(6th Cir. 2004)). See also Gray v. Toshiba Am. Consumer
Prods., Inc., 263 F.3d 595, 598 (6th Cir. 2001);
Williams v. Nashville Network, 132 F.3d 1123,
1130-31 (6th Cir. 1997); Barnes v. City of
Cincinnati, 401 F.3d 729, 736 (6th Cir. 2005). A motion
for judgment as a matter of law should not be granted unless
reasonable minds could come to only one conclusion, a
conclusion that favors the moving party. Radvansky v.
City of Olmstead Falls, 496 F.3d 609, 614 (6th
59(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states:
“A new trial may be granted to all or any of the
parties and on all or part of the issues (1) in any action in
which there has been a trial by jury, for any of the reasons
for which new trials have heretofore been granted in actions
at law in the courts of the United States ....” A new
trial is warranted under Rule 59(a) when a jury has reached a
“seriously erroneous result, ” as evidenced by
the verdict being against the great weight of the evidence.
Ward & Co. v. Duncan, 311 U.S. 243, 251 (1940).
As the Sixth Circuit has stated:
In ruling upon a motion for a new trial based on the ground
that the verdict is against the great weight of the evidence,
a district judge must compare the opposing proofs and weigh
the evidence . . . and “it is the duty of the judge to
set aside the verdict and grant a new trial, if he is of the
opinion that the verdict is against the clear weight of the
evidence. . . .”
“Courts are not free to reweigh the evidence and set
aside the jury verdicts merely because the jury could have
drawn different inferences or conclusions or because judges
feel that other results are more reasonable.”
Bruner v. Dunaway, 684 ...