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Andrew Dean v. Specialized Security Response

June 27, 2012

ANDREW DEAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SPECIALIZED SECURITY RESPONSE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Conti, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Pending before the court is a motion for a new trial (ECF No. 104) filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(a). Andrew Dean ("Dean" or "plaintiff"), an African-American former security guard, commenced this action against his former employer, Specialized Security Response, Inc. ("Specialized" or "defendant"), by filing a complaint with this court on April 28, 2009. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff's complaint included the following claims:

(1) race discrimination in violation of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1981; (2) retaliatory discharge in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq. ("FLSA"); and (3) a violation of Pennsylvania's Criminal History Record Information Act, 18 PA. CONS. STAT. § 9101, et seq. ("RIA").

Procedural and Factual Background

On August 24, 2011, the court entered an order (ECF No. 47), with an accompanying memorandum opinion (ECF No. 46), granting in part and denying in part defendant's motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 30). The court granted the motion with respect to the § 1981 claim and the claim for a violation of the RIA. The court denied the motion with respect to the FLSA retaliatory discharge claim, which was set for trial.

On January 17, 2012, a jury was selected and the trial commenced on the FLSA claim. The trial concluded on January 19, 2012. On January 19, 2012, a jury verdict was returned in favor of defendant. (ECF No. 99.)

On February 13, 2012, Dean filed the pending motion for a new trial (ECF No. 104) and a brief in support of the motion (ECF No. 105). On March 5, 2012, defendant filed a response to the motion (ECF No. 108), as well as a brief in opposition (ECF No. 109).

Plaintiff's motion for a new trial asserts there were six errors made by this court and that he is entitled to a new trial. Specifically, he argues the court erred when it: (1) determined the applicable standard for causation in FLSA retaliation claims; (2) failed to instruct the jury on the burden-shifting framework established by McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973); (3) failed to instruct the jury that defendant was not licensed under Pennsylvania law as a private detective agency in 2008; (4) excluded the testimony of Darrell Parker; (5) allowed evidence of defendant's private detective license applications from 2009 and 2010; and (6) granted defendant's motion for summary judgment in part. (Pl.'s Mot. New Trial (ECF No. 104) at 1-2.)

The factual background relevant to this opinion was reviewed in the court's prior memorandum opinion resolving defendant's motion for summary judgment. See Dean v. Specialized Sec. Response, Civil Action No. 09-515, 2011 WL 3734238, at *1-5 (W.D. Pa. Aug. 24, 2011). Because plaintiff relied on no facts of record in his motions or supporting briefing, the court need not recite the entirety of the testimony presented at trial. Relevant portions of the trial record will be included in this opinion where necessary.

Standard of Review

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(a) provides, in relevant part:

(1) Grounds for New Trial. The court may, on motion, grant a new trial on all or some of the issues -- and to any party -- as follows:

(A) after a jury trial, for any reason for which a new trial has heretofore been granted in an action at law in federal court; . . . .

FED. R. CIV. P. 59(a)(1)(A).

Rule 59(a) does not set forth specific grounds on which a court may grant a new trial. "The decision to grant or deny a new trial is confided almost entirely to the discretion of the district court." Blancha v. Raymark Indus., 972 F.2d 507, 512 (3d Cir. 1992) (citing Allied Chem. Corp. v. Daiflon, Inc., 449 U.S. 33, 36 (1980)); see Bhaya v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 922 F.2d 184, 187 (3d Cir. 1990) ("When the granting or denial of a new trial is contested on appeal, substantial deference must generally be given to the decision of the trial judge, who saw and heard the witnesses and has the feel of the case which no appellate printed transcript can impart." (internal quotation omitted)). The court may order a new trial if it is required to prevent injustice or to correct a verdict that was contrary to the weight of the evidence. Am. Bearing Co. v. Litton Indus., Inc., 729 F.2d 943, 948 (3d Cir. 1984). Requests for a new trial are disfavored by the law. Price v. Trans Union, L.L.C., CIV.A. 09-1332, 2012 WL 898687, at *3 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 16, 2012) ...


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