Pierce v. Pemiscot Memorial Health Systems et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion to amend her memorandum in support of new trial [Doc. #315] is granted. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for new trial [Doc. #303] is denied. Signed by District Judge Carol E. Jackson on 4/2/2015. (JMC)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
BONNIE MOORE and DR. JAMES PANG,
Case No. 1:11-CV-132 (CEJ)
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the court on plaintiff’s motion for a new trial, pursuant
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(a), and plaintiff’s motion to amend her memorandum in support
of new trial.
Defendants Bonnie Moore and James Pang have filed responses in
opposition and the issues are fully briefed.
Plaintiff Ruth Pierce brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
asserting that defendants improperly detained her in an inpatient psychiatric unit
following the expiration of a 96-hour detention order. On November 20, 2014, a
jury returned verdicts in favor of defendants.
Pursuant to Rule 59(a), “[t]he court, may, on motion, grant a new trial on all
or some of the issues . . . after a jury trial, for any reason for which a new trial has
heretofore been granted in an action at law in federal court.”
59(a)(1)(A). When addressing a motion for new trial, the court can “weigh the
evidence, disbelieve witnesses, and grant a new trial even where there is
substantial evidence to sustain the verdict.” Carraway v. Christian Hosp. Ne./Nw.,
No. 4:03CV1077FRB, 2006 WL 2524203, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Aug. 30, 2006) (quoting
White v. Pence, 961 F.2d 776, 780 (8th Cir. 1992)).
Although the Court has
discretion to set aside the jury verdict and grant a new trial, it “may not do so
merely because it believes that the evidence permitted different inferences or that
another result would be more reasonable.” Blake v. J.C. Penney Co., 894 F.2d 274,
281 (8th Cir. 1990). Instead, “the court must conclude that the jury reached a
seriously erroneous result and must state its reasons for this belief.”
court’s ultimate inquiry is whether the first trial resulted in a miscarriage of justice.
White, 961 F.2d at 780. The burden of demonstrating that error warrants a new
trial rests with the moving party.
Comerio v. Beatrice Foods Co., 616 F. Supp.
1423, 1428 (E.D. Mo. 1985).
Plaintiff argues that the court improperly instructed the jury.
She did not
make objections to the jury instructions at trial, as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 51(c).1
“The purpose of this rule is to afford the trial court an opportunity to cure a
defective instruction and to prevent litigants from obtaining a new trial in the event
of an adverse verdict by covertly relying on the error.” Cincinnati Ins. Co. v.
Bluewood, Inc., 560 F.3d 798, 805 (8th Cir. 2009). The contested jury instructions
thus are reviewed for plain error only, Rule 51(d)(2), which requires plaintiff to
establish that the “error has seriously affected the fairness, integrity, or public
reputation of judicial proceedings.”
Murphy v. Missouri Dep’t of Corr., 506 F.3d
1111, 1114 (8th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted). Errors in jury instructions only
Rule 51(c) provides: “A party who objects to an instruction or the failure to give an
instruction must do so on the record, stating distinctly the matter objected to and
the grounds for the objection.”
represent a miscarriage of justice where the error likely affected the jury’s verdict.
Sherman v. Winco Fireworks, Inc., 532 F.3d 709, 720 (8th Cir. 2008).
The court has reviewed plaintiff’s challenges to the jury instructions and
concludes that she has failed to establish that the trial resulted in a miscarriage of
Weight of Evidence
In determining whether a verdict is against the weight of the evidence, the
court may not reweigh the evidence and set aside the jury verdict merely because
the jury could have drawn different inferences or conclusions or because the court
feels that another result is more reasonable. Boesing v. Spiess, 540 F.3d 886, 890
(8th Cir. 2008). A motion for a new trial should only be granted if the jury’s verdict
is against the great weight of the evidence so as to constitute a miscarriage of
justice. Bank of America, N.A. v. JB Hanna, LLC, 766 F.3d 841, 851 (8th Cir. 2014).
The court has reviewed plaintiff’s arguments and concludes that the jury’s
verdict was not against the greater weight of the evidence.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff’s motion to amend her memorandum
in support of new trial [Doc. #315] is granted.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff’s motion for new trial [Doc. #303]
CAROL E. JACKSON
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 2nd day of April, 2015.
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