Bhatnagar v. United States of America

Filing 100

ORDER re: Plaintiff's request for advisory jury. Signed by Judge Maria-Elena James on 2/23/2017. (mejlc3, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 2/23/2017)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 SANJAY BHATNAGAR, Case No. 14-cv-00327-MEJ Plaintiff, ORDER RE: PLAINTIFF’S REQUEST FOR ADVISORY JURY 8 v. 9 10 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant. United States District Court Northern District of California 11 12 13 The parties are not entitled to a jury trial in this Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) action. 14 See United States v. Neustadt, 366 U.S. 696, 701 n.10 (1961). During oral argument on 15 Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment, Plaintiff Sanjay Bhatnagar nonetheless requested the 16 Court try the action with an advisory jury pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2402 and Federal Rule of Civil 17 Procedure 39(c). Defendant the United States of America opposed the request. 18 District courts in several circuits have used advisory juries in FTCA cases upon finding 19 one would be helpful and appropriate, most frequently when a jury already would be required 20 because the plaintiff also asserted claims against a non-governmental defendant. See, e.g., Hamm 21 v. Nasatka Barriers Inc., 166 F.R.D. 1, 3 (D. D.C. 1996) (same jury already would be hearing 22 claims against non-government defendant, and it would be more confusing to instruct jury to 23 ignore some pieces of evidence; “the Court ‘would be reluctant to use an advisory jury in a[n] 24 [FTCA] case if a trial jury were not already trying the case as to other defendants’” (quoting 25 Poston v. United States, 262 F. Supp. 22, 24 (D. Haw. 1966) and citing cases holding Rule 39(c) 26 gives “district courts discretion to use an advisory jury in FTCA cases”)); Carter v. United States, 27 2009 WL 1956474, at *1 (D. Kan. July 7, 2009) (“Courts routinely empanel advisory juries in 28 actions brought against both the United States and non-federal government defendants. In these 1 cases, because the plaintiff has a right to trial by jury against the non-federal defendant(s), it is 2 often helpful and appropriate to allow the jury to try the claims against the United States in an 3 advisory capacity. Courts have expressed reluctance, however, to abdicate the responsibility 4 placed upon it by Congress when a jury is not already trying non-federal defendants.”); In re 5 FEMA Trailer Formaldehyde Prods. Liab. Litig., 2009 WL 1950743, at *2 (E.D. La. July 2, 2009) 6 (ordering advisory jury on FTCA case where jurors already would be empaneled for other 7 defendants and where trying case against all defendants at once would allow court to abide by 8 Louisiana comparative fault principles); Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co. v. Dow Chem. Co., 44 F. Supp. 2d 9 870, 881 (E.D. Mich. 1999) (parallel advisory jury proceedings are common in FTCA cases involving non-government defendants (citing Gould v. Aerospatiale Helicopter Corp., 40 F.3d 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 10 1033, 1035 (9th Cir. 1994)). There are no non-government defendants in this FTCA action; therefore no jury will be 12 13 empaneled as of right to hear any portion of the case. Using an advisory jury in this instance 14 would not contribute to the “just, speedy, and inexpensive determination” of this proceeding. Fed. 15 R. Civ. P. 1. Accordingly, the Court declines to exercise its discretion to impanel an advisory jury 16 here. 17 IT IS SO ORDERED. 18 19 20 21 Dated: February 23, 2017 ______________________________________ MARIA-ELENA JAMES United States Magistrate Judge 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 2

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?