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Ware v. Brown

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

November 3, 2017

GLENN D. WARE, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL BROWN, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          PAUL R. CHERRY UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on two oral motions made on September 27, 2017, on a Defendant's Trial Brief, Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law Due to Inconsistent Verdicts and in the Alternative Motion for a New Trial [DE 148], filed by Defendant Michael Brown on October 25, 2017, and on a Plaintiff's Brief in Support of His Motion to Amend Verdict to Reflect Nominal Compensatory Damages [DE 149], filed by Plaintiff Glenn D. Ware on October 25, 2017.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The parties orally agreed on the record to have this case assigned to a 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 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

         On September 25-27, 2017, a jury trial was held in this litigation on Plaintiff's claims of civil rights violations under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claimed that Defendant used excessive force, conducted an unreasonable search, and retaliated against Plaintiff's exercise of free speech.

         The Court instructed the jury as follows regarding compensatory and nominal damages:

If you find in favor of Plaintiff Glenn Ware, then you must determine the amount of money that will fairly compensate him for any injury that you find he sustained as a direct result of Michael Brown's actions. These are called compensatory damages. . . .
If you find in favor of Glenn Ware but find that he has failed to prove compensatory damages, you must return a verdict for him in the amount of one dollar ($1.00).

(Final Jury Instr. No. 23, ECF No. 141). The Court also instructed the jury on punitive damages.

         The jury returned verdicts in favor of Defendant on the excessive force and unreasonable search claims. Using verdict forms provided by the Court, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff on the free speech claim. The verdict reads:

We, the Jury, find in favor of Plaintiff Glenn Ware on his federal civil rights claim against Defendant Michael Brown, finding that, under color of law, Michael Brown deprived Glenn Ware of his right under the United States Constitution to free speech.

(Jury Verdict Form, 1, ECF No. 144). The jury also returned the following compensatory damages and punitive damages verdicts on Court-provided forms:

We, the Jury, having found in favor of Plaintiff Glenn Ware on one or more of his claims, award total compensatory damages in favor of Plaintiff Glenn Ware against ...

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