Windsor v. Board of Education of Prince George's County et al
ORDER denying 125 Windsor's Rule 50/59 Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict, or in the Alternative, Motion for a New Trial; denying 126 Windsor's Rule 60 Motion for a New Trial; denying 128 Defendants' Motion to Strike; directing clerk to close the case. Signed by Judge Theodore D. Chuang on 2/8/2018. (aos, Deputy Clerk)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF PRINCE
GEORGE'S COUNTY, MARYLAND,
JANICE BRISCOE, in her individual capacity,
KARYN LYNCH, in her individual capacity,
JACQUELINE NAVES, in her individual
Civil Action No. TDC-14-2287
12, 2017, a jury returned a verdict in favor of Defendants Board of
Education of Prince George's County, Maryland; Janice Briscoe; Karyn Lynch; and Jacqueline
Naves on all of Plaintiff Suzanne Windsor's claims.
After the verdict was taken, Windsor
moved, for the first time, for judgment as a matter of law on her claims. The Court set a deadline
of December 19, 2017 for briefing on the motion.
On December 20, 2017, Windsor filed two
Pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 50 and 59, Windsor filed a Motion for
the Verdict or, in the Alternative, -for a New Trial (the "Rule 50/59
Motion"), ECF No. 125. Pursuant to Rule 60(b)(3), Windsor filed a Motion for this Court to
Grant a New Trial (the "Rule 60 Motion"), ECF No. 126. Defendants oppose the Motions and
have also filed a Motion to Strike the filings as untimely, ECF No. 128. For the reasons set forth
below, all of the Motions are DENIED.
To begin, Defendants request that the Court strike Windsor's Motions as untimely.
the transcript of the proceedings confirms, Windsor was informed by the Court that any post-trial
motions were due by December 19, 2017. On notice of that deadline, Windsor failed to meet it,
a failure that was another incident in a troubling pattern of Windsor's failures to abide by the
Court's scheduling requirements and time limits throughout the case and trial.
because, by rule, a party ordinarily has 28 days within which to file post-trial motions, and the
filings were made within that time period, the Court will not strike the Motions as untimely. See
Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(b), (d), 59(b).
To the extent that Windsor's Rule 50/59 Motion seeks judgment notwithstanding
verdict, also known as a judgment as a matter of law, it necessarily fails. Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 50 requires that any such motion be made "before the case is submitted to the jury."
Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(a)(2). After the jury has returned its verdict, the rules permit only a renewal
of a previously made motion. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(b). Because Windsor made no such motion
at the close of the evidence, her post-verdict motion is procedurally improper and thus will be
See Herrington v. Sonoma Cty., 834 F.2d 1488, 1500 (9th Cir. 1987) (noting that "a
motion for a directed verdict at the close of all the evidence is a prerequisite for a post-trial
motion for JNOV" and that this requirement "is to be strictly observed"); see also 9B Charles
Allan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Fed. Prac. & Proc.
2537 (3d ed. 2010) (stating that "the
district court only can grant the Rule 50(b) motion on the grounds advanced in the [Rule 50(a)]
motion, because the former is conceived of only as a renewal of the latter").
Alternatively, Windsor's Rule 50/59 Motion seeks a new trial pursuant to Rule 59. A
court may grant a motion for a new trial "for any reason" for which a new trial had been granted
in a federal trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(a)(1)(A).
Typically, a new trial may be warranted if the
verdict is against the "clear weight ofthe evidence."
Williams v. Nichols, 266 F.2d 389,392 (4th
Cir. 1959). While a Rule 50 motion requires the Court to evaluate the evidence in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party, a Rule 59 motion has a more flexible standard, requiring the
court to conduct a "comparison of opposing proofs." Id. at 393. Even under that more generous
standard, however, Windsor's Motion fails.
Having observed the trial and upon consideration of the full record, the Court finds no
basis to grant a new trial. At trial, Windsor alleged employment discrimination and retaliation
arising from three occasions when she was not promoted or re-assigned to a more favorable
and alleged mistreatment
discriminatory intent by the decisionmakers
offered no direct evidence
for any of those personnel actions.
however, provided testimony and evidence that the selections were made for non-discriminatory
reasons focused on the backgrounds
of the successful applicants.
evidence offered by Windsor to rebut such testimony focused on tangential incidents in which
she was allegedly treated unfairly by supervisors, but which were largely unconnected to the
hiring decisions, to race, or to prior protected activity.
Notably, the evidence established that
other School Board personnel, not within the protected class, were also treated unfairly by the
She also offered evidence
that certain decisionmakers
relationships with successful candidates, but such evidence did not reveal any racial or retaliatory
motivation for their decisions. Such evidence did not effectively refute Defendants' evidence or
otherwise demonstrate that Defendants acted with discriminatory or retaliatory intent.
comparing the opposing proofs offered by the parties at trial, the Court is satisfied that the jury's
verdict was not against the clear weight of the evidence. The Rule 50/59 motion will therefore
Windsor also moves pursuant to Rule 60(b )(3) for relief from judgment, and seeks a new
trial, on the grounds that the trial was marred by fraud and misconduct by Defendants.
Civ. P. 60(b)(3). To prevail on a Rule 60(b)(3) motion, a party must establish (1) a meritorious
defense, (2) misconduct by the non-moving party by clear and convincing evidence, and (3) that
the misconduct prevented the moving party from fully presenting her case. Schultz v. Butcher,
111,24 F.3d 626,630 (4th Cir. 1994). Windsor fails to satisfy these requirements.
First, Windsor asserts that Defendants'
counsel engaged in misconduct by failing to
disclose that he "previously represented her as he advised her Union Representative" on matters
that were referenced during the trial.
Rule 60 Mot. ~ 15.
Notably, Windsor would have
necessarily been aware of any such relationship and never raised it before trial. In any event,
Windsor has not offered persuasive evidence that defense counsel acted inappropriately, or that
any such prior activity prevented her from fully presenting her case to the jury.
Second, Windsor appears to assert that Defendants suborned perjury, attaching to her
Motion various documents that, she contends, establish that certain trial testimony was false. To
the extent that some of the documents appear to contradict certain trial testimony, however, they
do not establish by clear and convincing evidence that Defendants were suborning perjury, where
discrepancies, such as whether there was more than one discrimination complaint against Naves,
could have been based on innocent mis-recollection.
More importantly, these documents, most
if not all of which date from 2013 to 2015, were available to Windsor before trial.
Windsor was in a position to reveal the alleged falsehoods through cross examination, she cannot
establish that she was prevented from fully presenting her case.
Further, the testimony to which the documents relate consisted of collateral matters.
Windsor complains that Amana Simmons, the School Board's Equal Employment Opportunity
officer, falsely testified that Windsor was the only person to have filed a discrimination
complaint against Naves, that Shauna Battle falsely testified about Anthony Boyd's position, and
that Janice Briscoe falsely testified that she had not been previously demoted based on her
interactions with Windsor.
None of this testimony relates to the primary issues in the case of
whether Windsor was subjected to race discrimination
in certain promotion or reassignment
decisions or was subjected to retaliation. Windsor fails to articulate how the alleged false
testimony on such side issues would have prevented her from fully presenting her case. Because
Windsor has not established that she is entitled to relief under Rule 60(b)(3), her Motion will be
denied. Schultz, 24 F.3d at 630.
Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED that
1. Windsor's Rule 50/59 Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding
the Verdict, or in the
Alternative, Motion for a New Trial, ECF No. 125, is DENIED.
2. Windsor's Rule 60 Motion for a New Trial, ECF No. 126, is DENIED.
3. Defendants' Motion to Strike, ECF No. 128, is DENIED.
The Clerk is directed to close the case.
Date: February 8,2018
THEODORE D. C
United States Distnc
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