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Jones v. Pate Rehabilitation Endeavors, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

May 5, 2017

HARDY JONES, Plaintiff,


          Sam A. Lindsay United States District Judge.

         Before the court is Plaintiff's Motion for New Trial or to Alter or Amend Judgment (Doc. 107), filed January 12, 2017. After careful consideration of the motion, response, record, and applicable law, and for the reasons stated herein, the court denies Plaintiff's Motion for New Trial or to Alter or Amend Judgment.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Hardy Jones (“Plaintiff” or “Jones”) filed this action against Defendant Pate Rehabilitation Endeavors, Inc. (“Defendant” or “Pate”) on June 17, 2014. Jones amended his complaint on February 25, 2015, asserting claims for sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”); and retaliation under the ADEA and Title VII.

         On June 17, 2016, the court granted in part and denied in part Pate's summary judgment motion. Specifically, the court granted Pate's summary judgment motion with respect to Jones's Title VII sex discrimination and retaliation claims, and his ADEA retaliation claim, and dismissed these claims with prejudice. The court denied Pate's summary judgment motion with respect to Plaintiff's ADEA discrimination claim, and it proceeded to trial.

         The trial took place before the court and a jury on December 7, 8, 9, 12, 13 and14, 2016. The jury found in answer to Question No. 1 that Jones did not prove by a preponderance of the evidence that, but for his age, Pate would not have discharged him on December 11, 2013. The court entered a final judgment in favor of Pate in accordance with its Memorandum Opinion and Order (Doc. 57) and the jury verdict. The judgment adjudged, ordered, and decreed that Jones take nothing against Pate; that the action be dismissed with prejudice; that all allowable costs be taxed against Jones; and that all relief not granted in the judgment was denied.

         Jones states that his motion is brought pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 59(a), 59(e), and 60(b). Pl.'s Mot. for New Trial 1. Plaintiff also states that he is alternatively asserting that judgment as a matter of law should have been granted in his favor. In his motion for new trial or to alter or amend the judgment, Jones contends that: (1) the jury's verdict is clearly contrary to the evidence and that he proved his ADEA claim by a preponderance of the evidence; (2) the evidence at trial established that Pate's reasons for firing Jones were false and shown to be a pretext for intentional age discrimination; and (3) the jury based its verdict on evidence not in the record and was unduly influenced by pernicious comments made by the court. For the reasons that follow, the court disagrees. Because Plaintiff misapprehends, misapplies, and misinterprets the evidence, and takes matters out of context, the court will not expend scarce judicial resources addressing each of his misconceptions and red herrings. The court devotes its attention to why Plaintiff's motion is without merit.

         II. Standards

         A. Motion for New Trial - Rule 59(a)

         A court, upon motion, may “grant a new trial on all or some of the issues” to any party after a jury trial, for any reasons for which a new trial has heretofore been granted in an action at a law in federal court.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(a)(1)(A). New trials may be granted if a district court determines that the “verdict is against the weight of the evidence, the damages awarded are excessive, the trial was unfair, or prejudicial error was committed in its course.” Smith v. Transworld Drilling Co., 773 F.2d 610, 613 (5th Cir. 1985) (footnote and citations omitted). The appeals court reviews the denial of a motion for trial for an abuse of discretion. A “district court abuses its discretion by denying a new trial ‘only when there is an absolute absence of evidence to support the jury's verdict.'” Wellogix, Inc. v. Accenture, L.L.P., 716 F.3d 867, 881 (5th Cir. 2013) (citations omitted). If the evidence at trial is legally sufficient to support the jury's verdict, a district court does not abuse its discretion by denying a motion for new trial. One Beacon Ins. Co. v. T. Wade Welch & Assocs., 841 F.3d 669, 676 (5th Cir. 2016) (citations omitted). The appeals court is to view the evidence “in the light most favorable to the jury verdict.” Wellogix, 716 F.3d at 881 (quoting Seidman v. American Airlines, Inc., 923 F.2d 1134, 1140 (5th Cir. 1991)). A motion for new trial must clearly show that “a manifest error of law” occurred at the trial. Simon v. United States, 891 F.2d 1154, 1159 (5th Cir. 1991) (citation omitted).

         B. Motion to Amend or Alter Judgment - Rule 59(e)

         A motion to alter or amend the judgment under Rule 59(e) “calls into question the correctness of a judgment.” Templet v. HydroChem Inc., 367 F.3d 473, 478 (5th Cir. 2004) (citation omitted). Such motion “must clearly establish either a manifest error of law or fact or must present newly discovered evidence.” Marseilles Homeowners Condominium Ass'n Inc. v. Fidelity Nat'l Ins. Co., 542 F.3d 1053, 1058 (5th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). It may not be used to relitigate issues that were resolved to the movant's dissatisfaction. Forsythe v. Saudi Arabian Airlines Corp., 885 F.2d 285, 289 (5th Cir. 1989). A Rule 59(e) motion may not raise arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to entry of judgment. Simon v. United States, 891 F.2d 1154, 1159 (5th Cir. 1990) (citation omitted).

         District courts have “considerable discretion in deciding whether to grant or deny a motion to alter a judgment.” Hale v. Townley, 45 F.3d 914, 921 (5th Cir. 1995). In exercising this discretion, a district court must “strike the proper balance between the need for finality and the need to render just decisions on the basis of all the facts.” Id. With this balance in mind, the Fifth Circuit has observed that Rule 59(e) “favor[s] the denial of motions to alter or amend a judgment.” Southern Constructors Grp., Inc. v. Dynalectric Co., 2 F.3d 606, 611 (5th Cir. 1993). Stated another way, “[r]econsideration of a judgment after its entry is an extraordinary remedy that should be used sparingly.” Templet, 367 F.3d at 479.

         C. Motion for Relief from a Judgment or Order - Rule 60(b)

         The applicable federal rule provides as follows:

         On motion and just terms, the court may relieve a party or its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or proceeding for the following reasons:

(1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect;
(2) newly discovered evidence that, with reasonable diligence, could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under Rule 59(b);
(3) fraud (whether previously called intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or misconduct by an opposing party,
(4) the judgment is void;
(5) the judgment has been satisfied, released or discharged; it is based on an earlier judgment that has been reversed or vacated; or applying it prospectively is no longer equitable; or
(6) any other reason that justifies relief.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(1)-(6). Although Jones cites this rule as a basis for bringing his motion for new trial or to alter the judgment, he fails to cite the particular subsection on which he is relying. Thus, the court does not know Jones's basis for invoking Rule 60(b). As Jones fails to explain why he is entitled to relief under this rule, the court will deny his motion insofar as he requests relief under Rule 60(b).

         D. Judgment as a Matter of Law - Rule 50(a)

         This rule provides in relevant part:

(a) Judgment as a Matter of Law.
(1) In General. If 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 ...

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