United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY ON POST-TRIAL MOTIONS
William T. Lawrence, Judge
cause is before the Court on Defendant John Robert
Retherford's Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the
Verdict and/or in the Alternative a New Trial and/or
Remittitur (Dkt. No. 74); the Plaintiff's motion to toll
time (Dkt. No. 78); and Plaintiff George Pat Altizer's
motion for prejudgment and postjudgment interest (Dkt. No.
80). The Plaintiff filed a response to the Defendant's
motion (Dkt. No. 77), and the Defendant filed a response to
the Plaintiff's motion for prejudgment and postjudgment
interest (Dkt. No. 82). Being duly advised, the Court rules
jury rendered a verdict in favor of Plaintiff George Pat
Altizer on his excessive force claim against Defendant John
Robert Retherford and awarded damages in the amount of $200,
000.00 in compensatory damages and $15, 000.00 in punitive
damages. (Dkt. No. 73).
Defendant moves for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, a
new trial, or remittitur. When ruling on a Rule 50 motion for
judgment as a matter of law following a jury verdict, the
Court does not re-weigh the evidence presented at trial or
make credibility determinations. See Reeves v. Sanderson
Plumbing Prods., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000); Fed.R.Civ.P.
50(b). The Court views the evidence and all reasonable
inferences in the light most favorable to the prevailing
party. See Reeves, 530 U.S. at 150-51; Erickson
v. Wis. Dep't of Corr., 469 F.3d 600, 601 (7th Cir.
2006). A court will overturn the jury's verdict only if
no reasonable juror could have found in the non-moving
party's favor. See Erickson, 469 F.3d at 601.
“This is obviously a difficult standard to meet.”
Waite v. Bd. of Trs. of Ill. Cmty. Coll. Dist. 508,
408 F.3d 339, 343 (7th Cir. 2005).
viewing the evidence and all reasonable inferences in the
light most favorable to the prevailing party, it is not the
case that no reasonable juror could have found in the
Plaintiff's favor. The testimony presented at trial
established that the Defendant struck the Plaintiff, who was
restrained on a gurney, in the face several times, breaking
bones and causing great pain. A reasonable jury could have
determined that the force used by the Defendant was
objectively unreasonable under the circumstances. As such,
the Court will not overturn the jury's verdict.
decision to grant a new trial pursuant to Rule 59(a) is
committed to the Court's discretion. Johnson v. Gen.
Bd. of Pension & Health Benefits of United Methodist
Church, 733 F.3d 722, 730 (7th Cir. 2013). A court will
only order a new trial “if the jury's verdict is
against the manifest weight of the evidence, or if for other
reasons the trial was not fair to the moving party.”
Willis v. Lepine, 687 F.3d 826, 836 (7th Cir. 2012)
(alteration omitted) (citation omitted) (internal quotation
marks omitted). This is a difficult burden for Defendants to
meet. See Alverio v. Sam's Warehouse Club, Inc.,
253 F.3d 933, 939 (7th Cir. 2001). A “mere
scintilla” of evidence is not sufficient to sustain a
verdict, but the Court should not substitute its view of the
contested evidence in place of the jury's determination.
Filipovich v. K & R Express Sys., Inc., 391 F.3d
859, 863 (7th Cir. 2004). If, viewing the evidence in the
light most favorable to the prevailing party, there exists
within the record any reasonable basis to support the
verdict, the Court will not set aside a jury verdict.
Kapelanski v. Johnson, 390 F.3d 525, 530 (7th Cir.
2004) (citation omitted). Issues of credibility and weight of
evidence must be left to the jury. Id.; see also
Turner v. Miller, 301 F.3d 599, 602 (7th Cir. 2002) (the
test is whether “no rational juror could have found for
the prevailing party”).
jury's verdict was not against the manifest weight of the
evidence, nor has the Defendant identified reasons that the
trial was not fair to him. Again, viewing the evidence in the
light most favorable to the Plaintiff, there is a reasonable
basis to support the jury's verdict, and the Court will
not set it aside.
considering a motion for remittitur, the jury's verdict
must be given “proper deference.” Farfaras v.
Citizens Bank & Trust of Chicago, 433 F.3d 558, 566
(7th Cir. 2006). A court considers the following factors:
“whether (1) the award is monstrously excessive; (2)
there is no rational connection between the award and the
evidence, indicating that it is merely a product of the
jury's fevered imaginings or personal vendettas; and (3)
whether the award is roughly comparable to awards made in
similar cases.” Adams v. City of Chicago, 798
F.3d 539, 543 (7th Cir. 2015) (citation and quotation
Defendant argues that the jury could not reasonably have
reached a verdict of $200, 000 in compensatory damages and
that such damages must have been based on speculation with no
rational connection to the evidence. The Court disagrees. The
Plaintiff presented evidence regarding the pain and suffering
he experienced as a result of the Defendant striking him in
the face multiple times, fracturing several of the
Plaintiff's bones. The Court declines to find that the
award was monstrously excessive or that there was no rational
connection between the award and the evidence. Further, the
Plaintiff has pointed to similar cases in which roughly
comparable awards have been made. As such, the
Defendant's motion is denied.
Motion to Toll Time
Plaintiff filed a motion to toll time to file attorney's
fees and costs motion pending a ruling on the Defendant's
post-trial motions. (Dkt. No. 78). The Court GRANTS the
motion. The Plaintiff shall file his motion for