United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT WILCOX MEMORIAL
HOSPITAL'S RENEWED MOTION FOR JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF
C. KAY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
reasons discussed below, the Court DENIES Defendant Wilcox
Memorial Hospital's Renewed Motion for Judgment as a
Matter of Law, ECF No. 483.
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.
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.
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/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.
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./ 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).
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
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).
Conversion of Defendant's Rule 50(a) Motion to a Rule
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”).
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)).
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./ 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.
The New Arguments Raised in Defendant's Rule 50(b) Motion
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.”
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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