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Campbell v. Gause

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

March 31, 2019

ARTHUR CAMPBELL, Plaintiff,
v.
CYNTHIA GAUSE, ET AL., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER RE: POST-JUDGMENT MOTIONS

          R. STEVEN WHALEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Background

         This prisoner civil rights case, brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, was tried to a jury between October 10, 2017 and October 17, 2017. At trial, the Defendants, all employees of the Michigan Department of Corrections (“MDOC”), were Cynthia Gause, Angela Dye, Mark Bragg, Joslyn Conyers, Clarence Powell, Raymond Booker, Sandra Doucet, Tommy Snipes, and Darrell Steward. Following the close of proofs, Defendants moved for judgment as a matter of law under Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a). The Court granted the motion as to Defendants Booker, Snipes, and Steward. The motion was taken under advisement as to the remaining Defendants.

         On the Plaintiff's First Amendment retaliation claim, the jury found no cause of action as to Defendants Gause, Bragg, Powell, Conners, and Ducett. The jurors found Defendant Dye liable on this claim, awarding $1, 500.00 in nominal damages and $2, 500.00 in punitive damages.

         On the Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim, the jury found Defendant Dye liable, awarding $5, 000.00 in punitive damages. It found no cause of action on this claim as to Defendant Conyers and the other Defendants.

         On the conspiracy claim, the jurors found Defendants Dye and Conyers liable, and awarded $2, 500.00 in punitive damages. They found no cause of action as to the other Defendants.

         Following the jury verdict, and based on the jury finding no cause of action as to Defendants Bragg, Ducett, Gause, and Powell, the Court denied these Defendants' pre-judgment Rule 50(a) motions as moot. The Court also denied the motion as to the First Amendment retaliation count, the Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference count, and the conspiracy count against Defendant Dye, and as to the conspiracy count against Defendant Conyers.

         The parties now bring the following post-judgment motions:

-Defendants Dye and Conyers' Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law (under Rule 50(b)) and to Alter Judgment under Rule 59 [Doc. #179].
-Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law, or in the alternative, Motion for a New Trial [Doc. #182].

         For the reasons discussed below, both motions will be DENIED.

         II. Legal Principles

         A. Rule 50(b)

         Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b) is a procedural mechanism to renew a Rule 50(a) motion for judgment as a matter of law after a jury verdict and entry of judgment. Unitherm Food Sys., Inc. v. Swift-Eckrich, Inc., 546 U.S. 394, 399-400 (2006). In assessing a Rule 50(b) motion, the Court does not weigh the evidence or assess the credibility of the witnesses. Conwood Co. L.P. v. United States Tobacco Co., 290 F.3d 768, 781 (6th Cir. 2002). Judgment as a matter of law “may be granted only if in 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.” Gray v. Toshiba Am. Consumer Prods., Inc., 263 F.3d 595, 598 (6th Cir. 2001). “Thus, while the district court has the duty to intervene in appropriate cases, the jury's verdict should not be disturbed simply because different inferences and conclusions could have been drawn or because other results are more reasonable.” Wheaton v. N. Oakland Med. Ctr., 2006 WL 44163, at *2 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 6, 2006). A Rule 50(b) motion is addressed to the court's discretion. In re Brown, 342 F.3d 620, 626 -627 (6th Cir. 2003).

         B. ...


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