Village of Sauk Village v. Roadway Express, Inc. et al
MOTION by Defendants Roadway Express, Inc., YRC Worldwide Inc for judgment as a Matter of Law Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50 (Nerad, Brett)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
VILLAGE OF SAUK VILLAGE,
a Municipal Corporation,
ROADWAY EXPRESS, INC. and
YRC WORLDWIDE INC.,
Case No. 1:15–cv–09183
Hon. Judge Edmond E. Chang
YRC’S MOTION FOR JUDGEMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW
PURSUANT TO FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 50
At the April 11, 2017 trial session in this case, the Court requested that Defendants YRC
Worldwide Inc. and Roadway Express, Inc. (collectively, “YRC”) provide a written summary of
their Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50 motion for a judgment as a matter of law at the
conclusion of the Plaintiff Village of Sauk Village’s (the “Village”) case. At the April 12, 2017
trial session, the Court requested that YRC also provide a written summary for their Rule 50
motion for judgment as a matter of law at the conclusion of YRC’s case. YRC now submits this
motion to comply with the Court’s request. Pursuant to Rule 50, YRC hereby moves for
judgment as a matter of law on the Village’s negligence claim.1
A judgment as a matter of law should be granted “[i]f a party has been fully heard on an
issue during a jury trial and the court 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
reasonable persons could not find that the evidence justifies a decision for a party on an essential
The Village withdrew its trespass and nuisance claims at the trial conference on April 12, 2017.
element of its claim, the court should grant judgment as a matter of law.” Waubanascum v.
Shawano Cty., 416 F.3d 658, 664 (7th Cir. 2005). The Village failed to prove all of the elements
of its negligence claim both by the conclusion of its case and the conclusion of YRC’s case.
The Village Failed To Prove Its Negligence Claim.
“A plaintiff in a negligence action bears the burden of proving duty, breach of duty,
proximate causation and damages.” Wroble v. Lockformer Co., 2006 WL 695254, at *1 (N.D.
Ill. Mar. 17, 2006). The Village failed to prove a breach, causation, and damages during its case.
First, the Village has not offered any proof that YRC breached a duty of care owed to the
Village. Lois George, the Village’s sole witness offered to testify on breach and causation, did
not testify or offer any evidence that YRC ever failed to exercise due care. The only evidence of
a spill of a chlorinated solvent at YRC related to a 2001 release of trichloroethylene (“TCE”),
and Plaintiff put forward no evidence to support a finding that such spill was negligently handled
by YRC. To the contrary, Ms. George admitted that YRC properly responded to that spill
according to industry accepted practices. (See Trial Tr. at 321:21-25 (“Q. You would agree with
me that the use of absorbent pads to clean up a spill of chlorinated solvents like this is an
industry-accepted way to deal with these types of spills, right? A. Yes, it’s a standard
procedure.”); 322:1-4 (“Q. Likewise, disposing of the punctured drum and the used absorbent
pads, using overpacked drums, is an accepted cleanup practice, right? A. Yes, it is.”).) Ms.
George further admitted that she had no evidence whatsoever that the release ever reached
groundwater. (Id. at 322:11-14 (“Q. As you sit here today, you have seen no evidence that this
spill impacted the soil or groundwater beneath the YRC site, right? A. That is correct.”).) Nor did
Plaintiff introduce any evidence at trial that the low concentrations of tetrachloroethylene
(“PCE”) and TCE detected on three occasions over the course of a decade at YRC were the
result of YRC’s negligence.
Second, the Village failed to prove that YRC caused the vinyl chloride contamination of
the Village water supply. Proving the cause of environmental contamination is a complex
endeavor that requires scientific evidence and the consideration of numerous technical and
scientific factors and variables. See Cannata v. Forest Pres. Dist. of DuPage Cty., 2008 WL
4360644, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 23, 2008). But Plaintiff failed to introduce any evidence to prove
those elements of the Village’s negligence claim. Indeed, Ms. George admitted that she did not
even consider many of the factors critical to such an inquiry. In particular, Ms. George did not
offer any opinion or evidence regarding:
whether chlorinated solvents were released at YRC in sufficient quantities to cause the
consistent and sustained vinyl chloride contamination present in the Village water supply,
(Trial Tr. at 339:15-340:17);
whether the environmental conditions necessary to trigger the molecular degradation of
the low levels of TCE and PCE into vinyl chloride even exist in the subsurface at YRC,
(id. at 346:4-8 (admitting that the potential for degradation remains an untested
how those low-level detections of TCE and PCE migrated from less than 20 feet below
ground surface to the bedrock aquifer 70 feet below surface, (id. at 352:25-353:3).
Third, the Village failed to prove any damages. The Village has not offered any reliable
and accurate proof of its damages that can be considered by the jury. Instead, the Village’s
damages are entirely speculative. James Czarnik testified to the invoices in Plaintiff’s Exhibits 9
and the Rule 1006 set forth in Exhibit 67. But his testimony revealed that he applied an ad hoc
methodology to determine which of the costs in Plaintiff’s Exhibit 9 were related to the vinyl
chloride remediation, applying the same 48% to 30 out of 36 of the invoices. (See, e.g., id. at
Further, Kevin Weller admitted that he had not reviewed and checked Plaintiff’s Exhibit
66 for accuracy. (Id. at 440:5-14.) And a review of many of the invoices listed on Plaintiff’s
Exhibit 66 revealed myriad inaccuracies in that Rule 1006 summary, including costs unrelated to
the vinyl chloride remediation at issue in this case. At bottom, the Village failed to lay the
necessary foundation for the invoices in Plaintiff’s Exhibits 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, as well as the Rule
1006 summary in Exhibit 66. At the very least, YRC is entitled to judgment on a matter of law
on the $1,124,784.46 set forth in Plaintiff’s Exhibit 66.
Accordingly, the Court should grant YRC a judgment as a matter of law on the Village’s
The Village Failed To Prove Its Negligence Claim By The Conclusion Of
The Village also failed to adduce any evidence to support its negligence claim and
damages during YRC’s case. For that reason, and the reasons set forth above supra, Section A,
the Village failed to prove its negligence claim by the conclusion of YRC’s case.
For the reasons set forth above, YRC respectfully requests that the Court enter an order
granting it judgment as a matter of law on the Village’s negligence claim.
Dated: April 12, 2017
/s/ Brett A. Nerad
John R. Worth
Richard U.S. Howell
Brenton A. Rogers
Brett A. Nerad
KIRKLAND & ELLIS LLP
300 North LaSalle
Chicago, IL 60654
Attorneys for Roadway Express, Inc. and
YRC Worldwide Inc.
CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
The undersigned, Brett A. Nerad, hereby certifies that on April 12, 2017, copies of
YRC’S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW PURSUANT TO
FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 50 were served on the counsel of record through
the CM/ECF system of the Northern District of Illinois.
John E. Norris
Dargan M. Ware
DAVIS & NORRIS LLP
2154 Highland Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35205
Michael J. McGrath
Matthew J. Byrne
ODELSON & STERK, LTD.
3318 West 95th Street
Evergreen Park, IL 60805
Attorneys for Plaintiff
/s/ Brett A. Nerad
Brett A. Nerad
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