United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
E. MARTIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant's Renewed Motion
for Judgment as a Matter of Law [DE 134], filed by Defendant
on July 5, 2016. Defendant asks the Court to vacate the
jury's verdict and enter judgment in its favor under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50. On July 19, 2016,
Plaintiff filed a response, and on August 5, 2016, Defendant
filed a replied.
September 23, 2014, upon consent of the parties, the case was
reassigned to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge
to conduct all further proceedings and to order the entry of
a final judgment in this case. Therefore, this Court has
jurisdiction to decide this case under 28 U.S.C. §
6, 2016, this case proceeded to trial before a jury. On June
7, 2016, at the close of Plaintiff's evidence, Defendant
moved for judgment as a matter of law, and Plaintiff
responded to that motion. On June 8, 2016, in the interest of
allowing the case to proceed to the jury and without ruling
on the merits, the Court denied Defendant's motion and
instructed Defendant to renew its motion within 28 days after
the entry of judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
9, 2016, the jury returned a verdict in Plaintiff's
favor, awarding $87, 000 in damages. Judgment was entered
that same day. On July 5, 2016, within Rule 50(b)'s
28-day time- frame, Defendant filed this renewed Motion for
Judgment as a Matter of Law.
case involves a dispute over whether Defendant, an insurance
company, should have paid Plaintiff's claim for a fire at
Plaintiff's house. The parties agree that the following
facts were proven at trial.
owned a house in Griffith, Indiana (the
“Property”). Plaintiff's brother paid $86,
000 for the home in 1998, and Plaintiff later purchased the
Property in 2002 for $75, 000.00. About two years after
purchasing the Property, Plaintiff refinanced his mortgage,
which had been paid down to $67, 000, adding a line of credit
worth $20, 000 secured by the house.
slept mostly at his warehouse in Valparaiso, Indiana, rather
than at the Property. Gas and electricity to the Property had
been disconnected because of non-payment, and Plaintiff had
not been to the house for over three weeks before it caught
fire on February 24, 2008.
parties cite Indiana state law for the judgment as a matter
of law standard. However, even in diversity cases such as
this, federal standards apply to the procedural determination
of whether a verdict is supported by sufficient evidence.
See Walter v. Bruhn, 40 Fed.Appx. 244, 246 (7th Cir.
2002). Under federal law, a Court may grant a
motion for judgment as a matter of law if “there is no
legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to
find for [the non-moving] party on that issue.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a); Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing
Prods., 530 U.S. 133, 149- 51 (2000). “Judgment as
a matter of law is proper only if a reasonable person could
not find that the evidence supports a decision for a party on
each essential element of the case, viewing the evidence in
the light most favorable to the nonmovant” and making
all reasonable inferences permitted by the evidence.
Campbell v. Peters, 256 F.3d 695, 699 (7th Cir.
2001) (citations omitted); Susan Wakeen Doll Co., Inc. v.
Ashton Drake Galleries, 272 F.3d 441, 449 (7th Cir.
moves for judgment as a matter of law on two grounds. First,
Defendant argues there was insufficient evidence to support
the jury's finding that Plaintiff was entitled to
insurance coverage for the fire under Defendant's policy.
Second, Defendant argues that even if there was enough
evidence to support liability, there ...