United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ANGELICA J. KAUHAKO, individually and as parent and next friend of her minor child, MARIANA DOE, Plaintiff,
STATE OF HAWAII BOARD OF EDUCATION DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, Defendants. STATE OF HAWAII BOARD OF EDUCATION DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, Defendants and Third-Party Plaintiffs,
RUSTON TOM, Third-Party Defendant.
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT STATE OF HAWAII BOARD OF
EDUCATION DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION'S RENEWED MOTION FOR
JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, FOR A NEW
DERRICK K. WATSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a nine-day trial, the jury returned a verdict against the
State of Hawaii Board of Education Department of Education
(“State”) and Kristin Lindquist on Angelica
Kauhako and her daughter Mariana's negligence-based
claims arising out a sexual assault against Mariana by
another student at Waianae High School. However, as a result
of the jury's determination that Lindquist did not act
with malice, the Court found that Lindquist was entitled to a
qualified privilege recognized by Hawaii law and ordered the
claims against her dismissed. The State now seeks judgment as
a matter of law on the grounds that (1) it is immune from
liability because Lindquist is immune from liability and (2)
no reasonable juror could have concluded that the State was
negligent based on the evidence in the record. Alternatively,
the State seeks a new trial. Because evidence of negligence
attributable to the State-independent of Lindquist's
individual conduct-was more than sufficient to support the
jury's verdict and was not contrary to the clear weight
of the evidence, and because none of the alleged evidentiary
errors warrant a new trial, the State's motion is DENIED.
commenced on April 18, 2016 on a claim against the State
under Title IX (Count I) and on the following claims against
both the State and Lindquist: negligent supervision of
students (Count V), negligence (Count VII), gross negligence
(Count VIII), intentional infliction of emotional distress
(“IIED”) (Count X), and negligent infliction of
emotional distress (“NIED”) (Count XI). Following
Plaintiffs' case-in-chief, the Court denied
Defendants' oral motions for judgment as a matter of law
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(a) on Title
IX, gross negligence, IIED, and NIED. See Dkt. Nos.
172 and 182. After Defendants rested on April 28, 2016, they
orally moved for judgment as a matter of law on
Plaintiffs' Title IX and negligence-based claims. That
motion was also denied. See Dkt. No. 191.
jury returned its verdict on May 2, 2016, finding the State
and Lindquist liable for negligence, negligent supervision,
and NIED. The jury awarded Kauhako general damages in the
amount of $157, 500, and awarded Mariana $630, 000 in general
damages, $2, 825 for past medical expenses and $20, 000 for
future medical expenses. The jury also apportioned fault
between the Defendants, finding the State 95 percent and
Lindquist 5 percent liable, respectively. See Dkt.
No. 204 (Verdict Form).
jury's verdict included a determination that Plaintiffs
failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that
Lindquist was motivated by malice. See Dkt. No. 204
(Verdict Form). As a result, post-trial, the Court ruled as a
matter of law that Lindquist was entitled to a state law
qualified privilege, and, without objection, dismissed the
three negligence-based claims against her with prejudice.
See Dkt. No. 207 (5/9/16 Order Dismissing Claims).
State filed the instant motion on July 1, 2016, seeking
judgment as a matter of law on all claims against it pursuant
to Rule 50(b) and, alternatively, asking for a new trial
pursuant to Rule 59.
State argues that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law because (1) it is immune from liability on a
respondeat superior basis and (2) the jury's
findings of negligence are against the weight of the
evidence. Alternatively, the State seeks a new trial on the
grounds that (1) the jury's verdict was not consistent
with nor supported by the evidence and (2) it was error to
allow Rachel Lynch, Ph.D. to testify as an expert witness and
to award future medical expenses based on her testimony.
Because each of the State's arguments is without merit,
the motion is denied.
The Renewed Rule 50 Motion
Standard Of Review
State once again seeks judgment as a matter of law on
Plaintiffs' three negligence-based claims. The Court
previously denied Defendants' Rule 50 motion on these
same claims during trial on April 28, 2016. See Dkt.
If the court does not grant a motion for judgment as a matter
of law made under Rule 50(a), the court is considered to have
submitted the action to the jury subject to the court's
later deciding the legal questions raised by the motion. No
later than 28 days after the entry of judgment--or if the
motion addresses a jury issue not decided by a verdict, no
later than 28 days after the jury was discharged--the movant
may file a renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law and
may include an alternative or joint request for a new trial
under Rule 59. In ruling on the renewed motion, the court
(1) allow judgment on the verdict, if the jury returned a
(2) order a new trial; or
(3) direct the entry of judgment as a matter of law.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(b).
To file a renewed motion under Rule 50(b), a party 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)).
Munguia v. Grelyn of Maui, LLC, 2011 WL 1364026, at
*4-5 (D. Haw. Apr. 8, 2011), aff'd, 473
F.App'x 643 (9th Cir. 2012); see also Experience Hendrix
LLC v. Hendrixlicensing.com Ltd., 762 F.3d 829, 842 (9th
Cir. 2014) (“In considering a Rule 50(b)(3) motion for
judgment as a matter of law, the district court must uphold
the jury's award if there was any ‘legally
sufficient basis' to support it.”) (citation
The State Is Not Entitled To Judgment As A Matter Of Law