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Jodlowska v. Soar Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

February 20, 2015

IWONA JODLOWSKA
v.
SOAR CORP

MEMORANDUM

HARVEY BARTLE, III, District Judge.

Defendant Soar Corp. ("Soar") has pending before the court a motion for "a judgment NOV or for a new trial."

Plaintiff Iwona Jodlowska has sued Soar, her former employer, for race discrimination, gender discrimination and hostile work environment in the form of sexual harassment, and retaliation, all in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e et seq., and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 951 et seq. At the close of the plaintiff's case, defendant moved for judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on the ground that plaintiff had presented insufficient evidence to prove her claims. The court granted the motion as to plaintiff's race discrimination claim but otherwise denied the motion. Soar thereafter presented its witnesses in defense of the claims remaining against it, and the case as it then existed was submitted to the jury. In answers to special interrogatories, the jury found that: (1) plaintiff was subjected to a hostile work environment; (2) defendant had not proven that plaintiff unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities to prevent sexual harassment; (3) defendant unlawfully retaliated against her; and (4) defendant had not unlawfully discriminated against her on the basis of sex by terminating her employment. The jury awarded plaintiff $35, 000 in back pay and $50, 000 in compensatory damages for a total of $85, 000. The court entered judgment in this amount in favor of the plaintiff. The defendant did not renew its Rule 50 motion at the close of the evidence but did timely file the pending post-trial motion after the judgment was entered.

I.

Plaintiff first contends that since Soar did not renew its Rule 50 motion at the close of the evidence, its post-trial motion for judgment as a matter of law is limited to what occurred during plaintiff's case at the trial and cannot rely on what transpired during defendant's case.

Rule 50 provides in relevant part:

(a) Judgment as a Matter of Law.
(1) In General. If a party has been fully heard on an issue during a jury trial and the court finds that a reasonable jury would not have a legally sufficient evidentiary basis to find for the party on that issue, the court may:

(A) resolve the issue against the party; and

...
(2) Motion. A motion for judgment as a matter of law may be made at any time before the case is submitted to the jury. The motion must specify the judgment sought and the law and facts that entitle the movant to the judgment.
(b) Renewing the Motion After Trial; Alternative Motion for a New Trial. If the court does not grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law made under Rule 50(a), the court is considered to have submitted the action to the jury subject to the court's later deciding the legal questions raised by the motion. No later than 28 days after the entry of judgment - or if the motion addresses a jury issue not decided by a verdict, no later than 28 days after the jury was discharged - the movant may file a renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law and may include an alternative or joint request for a new trial under Rule 59....

Under Rule 50(b), Soar, within 28 days of the entry of judgment, is permitted to file a "renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law." (emphasis added) While Soar met this deadline, its motion must necessarily be confined to the legal issues it raised when it made its pre-verdict Rule 50 motion and is limited to challenging the evidence in the record at that time. As the Advisory Committee Note to the 2006 Amendment to Rule 50 explains, "Because the Rule 50(b) motion is only a renewal of the preverdict motion, it can only be granted on grounds advanced in the preverdict motion." See Conseco Fin. Servicing Corp. v. N. Am. Mortg. Co., 381 F.3d 811, 821 (8th Cir. 2004); ...


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