Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Raymond v. Wilcox Memorial Hospital

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

July 10, 2019

CAMERON RAYMOND, Plaintiff,
v.
WILCOX MEMORIAL HOSPITAL, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT WILCOX MEMORIAL HOSPITAL'S RENEWED MOTION FOR JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW

          ALAN C. KAY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         For the reasons discussed below, the Court DENIES Defendant Wilcox Memorial Hospital's Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law, ECF No. 483.

         BACKGROUND

         For purposes of this Order, the Court will not recount this case's lengthy procedural and factual history beginning in 2015. The Court only discusses those facts of specific relevance to the issues that this Order addresses. Detailed procedural and factual discussions are available in the Court's Order Denying Defendant Wilcox Memorial Hospital's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law dated April 16, 2019. See ECF No. 470.

         A jury trial on Plaintiff Cameron Raymond's (“Plaintiff”) claims against Defendant Wilcox Memorial Hospital (“Defendant”) for assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”) took place on March 13-15 and 20- 21, 2019. ECF Nos. 437, 438, 440, 455, and 456. On March 18, 2019, Defendant filed a Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(a) (the “Rule 50(a) Motion). ECF No. 444. Plaintiff filed a Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant's Rule 50(a) Motion on March 19, 2019. The Court heard oral argument on the Rule 50(a) Motion on March 20, 2019, ECF No. 455, but declined to rule thereon until after the verdict had been rendered.

         The jury deliberated on March 21 and 22, 2019, ECF Nos. 456 and 461, and returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff on March 22, 2019. ECF Nos. 461 and 463. The jury found Defendant liable for assault, battery, and IIED, and awarded Plaintiff $722, 600, comprising $297, 600 in compensatory damages[1]/and $425, 000 in punitive damages. ECF No. 463. On April 16, 2019, the Court issued an Order Denying Defendant Wilcox Memorial Hospital's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law (the “April 16, 2019 Order”). ECF No. 470. Judgment was entered on that same date. ECF No. 471. The Court's April 16, 2019 Order is hereby incorporated herein in its entirety.

         On May 14, 2019, Defendant filed the instant Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(b) (the “Rule 50(b) Motion”), ECF No. 483, together with a Memorandum in Support (“Mem. in Supp.”) thereof.[2]/ ECF No. 483-1. On May 28, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Memorandum in Opposition (“Mem. in Opp.”), ECF No. 487, and on June 13, 2019, Defendant filed its Reply. ECF No. 489. Under the Local Rules of Practice for the United States District Court for the District of Hawai`i, motions for judgment as a matter of law are non-hearing motions, and the Court finds that a hearing on this Motion is neither necessary nor appropriate. See L.R. 7.2(e).

         STANDARD

         A district court ruling on a motion for judgment as a matter of law “may not substitute its view of the evidence for that of the jury, ” Johnson v. Paradise Valley Unified Sch. Dist., 251 F.3d 1222, 1227 (9th Cir. 2001), and must uphold the jury's verdict if it is supported by substantial evidence. See Wallace v. City of San Diego, 479 F.3d 616, 624 (9th Cir. 2007) (citing Johnson, 251 F.3d at 1227). “Substantial evidence is evidence adequate to support the jury's conclusion, even if it is also possible to draw a contrary conclusion from the same evidence.” Johnson, 251 F.3d at 1227. A district court ruling on a motion for judgment as a matter of law should review the record as a whole, but must disregard all evidence favorable to the moving party that the jury is not required to believe. Id. (citing Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 151 (2000) (“That is, the court should give credence to the evidence favoring the nonmovant as well as that evidence supporting the moving party that is uncontradicted and unimpeached, at least to the extent that that evidence comes from disinterested witnesses.” (citation and internal quotations marks omitted))).

         In ruling on such a motion, the court must not weigh the evidence or make credibility determinations, Reeves, 530 U.S. at 150, “but should simply ask whether the plaintiff has presented sufficient evidence to support the jury's conclusion, ” Wallace, 479 F.3d at 624 (citing Johnson, 251 F.3d at 1227-28). “The evidence must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and all inferences must be drawn in favor of that party.” Id.; see also Reeves, 530 U.S. at 150 (noting that the standard for judgment as a matter of law mirrors that for summary judgment). “Judgment as a matter of law may be granted only where, so viewed, the evidence permits only one reasonable conclusion, and that conclusion is contrary to the jury's verdict.” Wallace, 479 F.3d at 624 (citing McLean v. Runyon, 222 F.3d 1150, 1153 (9th Cir. 2000)). The “high hurdle” the moving party must clear in order to obtain relief “recognizes that credibility, inferences, and factfinding are the province of the jury, not [the] court.” Costa v. Desert Palace, Inc., 299 F.3d 838, 859 (9th Cir. 2002).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Preliminary Matters

         A. Conversion of Defendant's Rule 50(a) Motion to a Rule 50(b) Motion

         As the Court stated in its April 16, 2019 Order, rather than ruling immediately on a motion for judgment as a matter of law made before the case is submitted to the jury, a district court may, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(b), “defer its ruling and make a later determination of the legal questions raised by the motion . . . . The Court's deferred consideration effectively converts the motion into a post-verdict Rule 50(b) motion.” Merino v. Marchon, Inc., No. 92 4662 WDK (JRX), 1994 WL 695826, at *4 (citing Biodex v. Loredan Biomedical, 946 F.2d 850, 861 (Fed. Cir. 1991)); see also Runnings v. Ford Motor Co., 461 F.2d 1145, 1148 n.4 (9th Cir. 1972) (noting the “desirability of withholding action on motions for directed verdicts and permitting the jury to reach a verdict”); Krechman v. Cty. of Riverside, 723 F.3d 1104, 1110 (9th Cir. 2013) (iterating that “taking a motion under submission and ruling on it after the jury returns a verdict is a proper practice”); Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b) Advisory Committee's Note to 1991 Amendment (citing the potential for a movant's verdict mooting the motion, and for a reversal on appeal requiring a new trial, as reasons that “a court may often wisely decline to rule on a motion for judgment as a matter of law made at the close of the evidence”).

         As another district court put it, “the ruling by the district court on the deferred Rule 50 motion, whether by grant or denial, will have the same legal consequence of a ruling by the district court on a post-verdict motion originally brought under Rule 50(b). Because a Rule 50(b) motion is nothing more than a renewal of the earlier motion, it cannot assert a ground that was not included in the earlier motion.” Op Art, Inc. v. B.I.G. Wholesalers, Inc., Civil Action NO. 3:03-CV-0887-P, 2006 WL 3347911, at *1 (N.D. Tex. Nov. 17, 2006) (citing C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2537 (2d ed. 1986); Morante v. Am. Gen. Fin. Ctr., 157 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998); Allied Bank-West, N.A. v. Stein, 996 F.2d 111, 115 (5th Cir. 1993)).

         Plaintiff suggests that the Court, in its April 16, 2019 Order, “expressly converted [Defendant]'s Rule 50(a) pre-verdict motion into a post-verdict Rule 50(b) motion.” Mem. in Opp. at 2. This suggestion mischaracterizes the Court's April 16, 2019 Order, which merely acknowledged that when a court defers ruling on a Rule 50(a) motion it effectively converts the motion into a Rule 50(b) motion; the Court did not expressly convert Defendant's Rule 50(a) Motion into a Rule 50(b) Motion. While conversion might appear a pragmatic approach, it is one the Ninth Circuit has never endorsed.[3]/ Moreover, Defendant is correct that litigants are required to move under Rule 50(b) within 28 days after the entry of judgment in order to preserve for appeal arguments made in a Rule 50(a) motion. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b); Unitherm Food Sys., Inc. v. Swift-Eckrich, Inc., 546 U.S. 394, 404 (2006) (it is established “that the precise subject matter of a party's Rule 50(a) motion . . . cannot be appealed unless that motion is renewed pursuant to Rule 50(b)”). Accordingly, Defendant's Rule 50(b) Motion is properly before the Court; however, the motion raises significant waiver issues to which the Court now turns.

         B. The New Arguments Raised in Defendant's Rule 50(b) Motion Are Waived

         The Ninth Circuit has stated the following about the interplay between Rule 50(a) and Rule 50(b):

A Rule 50(b) motion for judgment as a matter of law is not a freestanding motion. Rather, it is a renewed Rule 50(a) motion. Under Rule 50, a party must make a Rule 50(a) motion for judgment as a matter of law before a case is submitted to the jury. If the judge denies or defers ruling on the motion, and if the jury then returns a verdict against the moving party, the party may renew its motion under Rule 50(b). Because it is a renewed motion, a proper post-verdict Rule 50(b) motion is limited to the grounds asserted in the pre-deliberation Rule 50(a) motion. Thus, a party cannot properly 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 pre-verdict Rule 50(a) motion.

E.E.O.C. v. Go Daddy Software, Inc., 581 F.3d 951, 961 (9th Cir. 2009) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted); OTR Wheel Eng'g, Inc. v. W. Worldwide Servs., Inc., 897 F.3d 1008, 1016 (9th Cir. 2018) (“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 pre-verdict Rule 50(a) motion . . . . Such arguments are also waived for purposes of appeal.”) (citations omitted). The Advisory Committee's Note to the 2006 Amendment to Rule 50(b) emphasizes that “[b]ecause the Rule 50(b) motion is only a renewal of the pre-verdict motion, it can be granted only on grounds advanced in the pre-verdict motion.”

         When ruling on a Rule 50(b) motion based on grounds not previously asserted in a Rule 50(a) motion, courts are limited to reviewing the jury's verdict for plain error, and should reverse only if such plain error would result in a manifest miscarriage of justice. Go Daddy Software, Inc., 581 F.3d at 961 (citing Janes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 279 F.3d 883, 888 (9th Cir. 2002)). “This exception . . . permits only extraordinarily deferential review that is limited to whether there was any evidence to support the jury's verdict.” Id. at 962-63 (internal quotation marks omitted, emphasis in original).

         In Go Daddy, the Ninth Circuit determined that an argument first asserted in a movant's Rule 50(b) motion was the “logical extension” of an argument asserted in the movant's Rule 50(a) motion, and therefore the new argument was not waived. See 581 F.3d at 962; see also Coach, Inc. v. Celco Customs Servs. Co., No. CV 11-10787 MMM (FMOx), 2014 WL 12573411, at *6 (C.D. Cal. June 5, 2014). However, the Ninth Circuit did not broadly rule that new arguments raised in Rule 50(b) motions are proper where those arguments are logical extensions of arguments raised in Rule 50(a) motions. Nor did the Ninth Circuit develop any sort of standard for courts to apply in this regard, and it appears no other circuits apply a logical extension analysis when determining whether a party has waived a new argument raised in a Rule 50(b) motion.

         Go Daddy involved a plaintiff who allegedly reported to a human resources manager that two of his supervisors made discriminatory comments about him. 581 F.3d at 955, 957. The plaintiff was later terminated by a panel that included as a member the human resources manager to whom the plaintiff complained. Id. at 957, 959. The plaintiff filed suit, alleging discrimination and retaliation claims; the jury returned a plaintiff's verdict on the retaliation claim. Id. at 959-60. The court considered a Rule 50(b) argument that the plaintiff's alleged reports to the manager could not have motivated the panel's termination decision, and the court determined that this was a logical extension of the defendant's sole Rule 50(a) argument that there was insufficient evidence the manager told her fellow panel members of the plaintiff's reports. Id. at 962-63. The Ninth Circuit's analysis suggests that one argument is the logical extension of another if the arguments are highly interrelated. Indeed, the argument that the plaintiff's alleged reports to a manager could not have motivated the panel's termination decision is dependent upon the related argument that the manager did not tell her fellow panel members about the plaintiff's alleged reports.

         The defendant raised two other Rule 50(b) arguments: (1) there was insufficient evidence for the jury to conclude that the plaintiff engaged in protected activity; and (2) if there was sufficient evidence for the jury to conclude that the plaintiff engaged in protected activity, there was insufficient evidence that the panel decided to terminate the plaintiff after he engaged in protected activity. Id. at 963. The court determined that these arguments were not logical extensions of the defendant's sole Rule 50(a) argument and were therefore subject to review for plain error.

         Based upon the foregoing, the Court finds it appropriate to construe the logical extension “exception” to Rule 50(b) waiver narrowly. In the Ninth Circuit, “substantial compliance [with Rule 50] is not enough.” Janes, 279 F.3d at 887. The Court now turns to the arguments that Defendant raises for the first time in its Rule 50(b) Motion.[4]

         i. Expert Testimony

         Defendant argues that Plaintiff's claims were “medical torts” within the meaning of Hawai`i Revised Statutes (“HRS”) § 671-1, and therefore Plaintiff's failure to present expert testimony that Dr. Chris Elliott's administration of Haldol departed from the relevant standard of care entitles Defendant to judgment as a matter of law. Mem. in Supp. at 6-7. In its Rule 50(a) Motion, Defendant argued that Plaintiff was required to present expert testimony in order to establish the causation elements of his claims-that is, that Haldol caused Plaintiff injuries and damages. The Rule 50(b) argument suggests that Plaintiff was required to adduce expert testimony concerning Dr. Elliott's decision to administer Haldol, while Defendant argued under Rule 50(a) that the causative effects of Haldol required expert testimony. The arguments are completely unrelated and the former is not a logical extension of the latter. Accordingly, the Court finds that this argument is waived.

         ii. Agency Arguments

         Defendant's Rule 50(b) Motion argues that the implied actual authority theory of agency does not exist in the context of hospitals and patient care. Mem. in Supp. at 10. Defendant's Rule 50(a) Motion argued only that Dr. Elliott was not an agent of Wilcox Memorial Hospital under the theory of apparent authority. It is likely that Defendant's argument about implied actual authority is in fact a direct response to the Court having found, in its April 16, 2019 Order, substantial evidence for the jury to conclude that Dr. Elliott was an agent of Wilcox Memorial Hospital under implied actual authority. The Court finds that this argument is not a logical extension of Defendant's argument regarding apparent authority because the arguments concern two different theories of agency law. Accordingly, this argument is waived.[5]

         Relatedly, Defendant's argument that there is insufficient evidence to establish that Dr. Elliott was an agent of Defendant based on implied actual authority, Mem. in Supp. at 10-12, is also waived because no such argument was raised in Defendant's Rule 50(b) Motion.

         Finally, Defendant argues that Dr. Elliott was not an agent of Defendant under the theory of apparent authority. Mem. in Supp. at 12-16. This argument was raised in Defendant's Rule 50(a) Motion, so the argument is properly before the Court.

         iii. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.