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.

RUSH v. SCOTT SPECIALTY GASES

June 13, 1996

CHRISTINE RUSH
v.
SCOTT SPECIALTY GASES, INC.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOYNER

 JOYNER, J.

 JUNE 13, 1996

 After a two-week trial, a jury awarded Plaintiff Christine Rush a verdict on all but one of her claims against Defendant Scott Specialty Gases, Inc. These claims were based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e -- 2000e-17 (1994) and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. §§ 951-963 (1991) (PHRA). Rush alleged discrimination in training and promotion and a hostile work environment. The jury's verdict awarded $ 203,000 in lost wages, $ 1,000,000 in pain and suffering and $ 3,000,000 in punitive damages. Scott now seeks a judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 50, or a new trial pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 59 or at least an order conditioning denial of this motion on Rush's acceptance of a remittitur pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 59.

 The basic factual background of this action was explored in our February 12, 1996 Memorandum and Order denying Scott's motion for summary judgment. See, 914 F. Supp. 104 (E.D. Pa. 1996). We will not re-state that background here, but we stress that we do not incorporate any of the factual rulings or conclusions from that opinion into this. These two decisions come at very different points in the litigation and this opinion is based solely on the record developed at trial.

 Standards of Review

 On a motion for judgment as a matter of law, a court must take the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict winner and determine whether it amounts to a "legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to find for" the verdict winner. Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(a)(1); Roebuck v. Drexel Univ., 852 F.2d 715, 728 (3d Cir. 1988). If it does not, a judgment as a matter of law is appropriate.

 Even if a court finds that a judgment as a matter of law is not appropriate, it may still conclude that the weight of the evidence is against the verdict and order a new trial to prevent a miscarriage of justice. Id. at 736. A court may also grant a new trial if the verdict was the result of erroneous jury instructions, was excessive or clearly unsupported by the evidence, or was influenced by extraneous matters such as passion, prejudice, sympathy or speculation. Lightning Lube, Inc. v. Witco Corp., 802 F. Supp. 1180, 1186 (D.N.J. 1992), aff'd, 4 F.3d 1153 (3d Cir. 1993); Link v. Mercedes-Benz, 788 F.2d 918, 922 (3d Cir. 1986).

 In the alternative, a court may deny a motion for a new trial on the condition that plaintiff accept a remittitur of the jury verdict. Spence v. Board of Educ., 806 F.2d 1198, 1201 (3d Cir. 1986); Marcone v. Penthouse Int'l, Ltd., 577 F. Supp. 318, 335 (E.D. Pa. 1983), rev'd on other grounds, 754 F.2d 1072 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 864, 88 L. Ed. 2d 151, 106 S. Ct. 182 (1985). Some verdicts, however, can be so excessive that they inherently demonstrate passion or prejudice. In those cases, a remittitur cannot be ordered, and a new trial is the only solution. Auster Oil & Gas, Inc. v. Stream, 835 F.2d 597, 603 (5th Cir. 1988).

 Discussion

 1. Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law

 Scott points to a number of evidentiary issues to support its assertion that the evidence does not support the verdict. A careful examination of these issues, however, reveals that this line of argument is based on a very parsed reading of the record. This Court has thoroughly reviewed each area to which Scott points and has looked to the record on each point. After this survey, we conclude that there was a sufficient amount of evidence to support the jury's findings. It is true that much of this evidence was controverted, but that does not affect the point that more than the minimum amount of evidence existed to support Rush's version of the truth. That being said, we deny the Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law.

 2. Motion for a New Trial

 Scott contends that even if some evidence supported Rush's story, the weight of the evidence is in its favor and therefore a new trial is appropriate. Based on the careful survey referred to above, we find that, in fact, the weight of the evidence was in Rush's favor and so we deny Scott's motion for a new trial on this basis.

 Scott also asserts, however, that several incorrect evidentiary rulings and jury instructions constitute grounds for a new trial. First, we dismiss many of Scott's assertions of evidentiary error, finding that they are based on incorrect readings of the record; for example, that this Court improperly limited testimony when in fact the testimony was permitted. See e.g. Tr., 4/15/96, pp. 68-69; see also Tr., 4/16/96, pp. 144-46. Scott also improperly raises objections to testimony to which it did not object at trial or to which it objected on different grounds. See e.g. Tr., 4/10/96, pp. 210-11; Tr., 4/19/96, p. 63. Finally, Scott has failed to show that it was prejudiced as a result of any of the alleged evidentiary errors. See e.g. Tr., 4/10/96, pp. 126-27.

 Scott also seeks a new trial on the ground that several jury instructions were incorrect. We have carefully reviewed each area of alleged error and conclude that the jury charge was proper. When the charge is read as a whole, it is apparent that the areas Scott points to as being misleading or confusing were clear. Further, our review indicates that the charge was accurate based on both the law and the evidence educed at trial.

 For all the above reasons, we do not grant a new trial on the basis ...


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.