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Preez v. Banis

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

July 27, 2002

RONI DU PREEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
RICK BANIS, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW AND FOR NEW TRIAL PURSUANT TO FRCP RULES 50(B) AND 59

          Leslie E. Kobayashi United States District Judge

         Before the Court is Plaintiff Roni Du Preez's (“Plaintiff”) Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law and for New Trial Pursuant to FRCP Rules 50(b) and 59 (“Motion”), filed on May 12, 2017. [Dkt. no. 329.] Defendants Rick Banis, Don Carano, Fred Scarpello, and John Mackall, as Trustees of the Estate of William Pennington (collectively, “Trustee Defendants”), WNP Enterprises, Inc. (“WNP”), and Western Equities LLC (“Western, ” and all collectively, “Defendants”) filed their memorandum in opposition on May 19, 2017. [Dkt. no. 334.] The Court has considered the Motion as non-hearing matter pursuant to Rule LR7.2(e) of the Local Rules of Practice of the United States District Court for the District of Hawai`i (“Local Rules”). Plaintiff's Motion is hereby denied for the reasons set forth below.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed this action on March 20, 2014 in state court. The Trustee Defendants and Western Equities filed their Notice of Removal on April 11, 2014. The operative pleading is her Third Amended Complaint for Damages and Equitable Relief (“Third Amended Complaint”), filed May 5, 2015. [Dkt. no. 130.] The factual issues in this case are well known to the parties, and the Court will only discuss the issues that are relevant to the instant Motion.

         The case went to trial on Count I, breach of implied contract, and Count VI, promissory estoppel. See Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defs.' Motion for Summary Judgement and Denying as Moot Defs.' Motion to Dismiss, filed 9/30/15 (dkt. no. 211) (“9/30/15 Order”) (granting summary judgment as to all other claims).[1] The gravamen of this case is that Plaintiff seeks to enforce the promises that she alleges her former employer, William Pennington, made to her before she accepted the position as the manager of his vacation home on the Island of Maui and during the course of her employment.

         Jury selection occurred on May 2, 2017. [Amended Minuted, filed 5/2/17 (dkt. no. 319).] The parties presented evidence on May 3 and 4, and closing arguments on May 5, [dkt. nos 318, 320, 324]. Later that day, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Defendants as to both counts. [Special Jury Verdict Form, filed 5/5/17 (dkt. no. 325).] The instant Motion followed, renewing the oral motion for judgment as a matter of law that Plaintiff made after Defendants rested their case.

         STANDARD

         This district court has explained:

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(b) allows a party to file a renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law after entry of judgment on a jury verdict. To file a renewed motion under Rule 50(b), a party generally must first file a motion for judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50(a) before the case is submitted to the jury. E.E.O.C. v. Go Daddy Software, Inc., 581 F.3d 951, 961 (9th Cir. 2009). If the court denies or defers ruling on the Rule 50(a) motion and the jury returns a verdict against the moving party, the party may then renew the motion under Rule 50(b). Id. Because it is a “renewed” motion, a party cannot “raise arguments in its post-trial motion for judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50(b) that it did not raise in its preverdict Rule 50(a) motion.” Id. (quoting Freund v. Nycomed Amersham, 347 F.3d 752, 761 (9th Cir. 2003)).
The rule that a party must move for judgment as a matter of law before the case is submitted to a jury does not apply if the motion alleges inconsistencies in the answers given to a special verdict. Pierce v. Souther[n] Pacific Transp. Co., 823 F.2d 1366, 1369 (9th Cir. 1987) (“When a special verdict does not support a judgment a reviewing court may make an exception to the Rule 50(b) requirement of a motion for directed verdict as a prerequisite to a motion [judgment notwithstanding the verdict].”); Zhang v. American Gem Seafoods, Inc., 339 F.3d 1020, 1033 (9th Cir. 2003).
In ruling on a 50(b) motion, the Court may allow judgment on the verdict, order a new trial, or reverse the jury and direct the entry of judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b). The court will direct judgment as a matter of law if “the evidence permits only one reasonable conclusion, and that conclusion is contrary to the jury's verdict.” Go Daddy Software, Inc., 581 F.3d at 961 (quoting Josephs v. Pac. Bell, 443 F.3d 1050, 1062 (9th Cir. 2006)). When considering the motion, the court “may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence.” Id. (quoting Reeves v. Sanderson Plumb[]ing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000)). Instead, the court reviews the evidence “in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party” and draws “all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.” Id. (quoting Josephs, 443 F.3d at 1062)). “While the district court may not resolve conflicts in the testimony or weigh the evidence, it may evaluate evidence at least to the extent of determining whether there is substantial evidence to support the verdict. ‘[A] mere scintilla of evidence will not suffice.'” Von Zuckerstein v. Argonne Nat'l Laboratory, 984 F.2d 1467, 1471 (7th Cir. 1993) (citing La Montagne v. American Convenience Products, Inc., 750 F.2d 1405, 1410 (7th Cir. 1984)).
The Ninth Circuit has defined substantial evidence as “such relevant evidence as reasonable minds might accept as adequate to support a conclusion even if it is possible to draw two inconsistent conclusions from the evidence.” Maynard v. City of San Jose, 37 F.3d 1396, 1404 (9th Cir. 1994) (citing George v. City of Long Beach, 973 F.2d 706, 709 (9th Cir. 1992)).

Dawkins v. City & Cty. of Honolulu, Civ. No. 10-00086 HG-KSC, 2012 WL 1982461, at *3-4 (D. Hawai`i May 31, 2012) (some ...


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