United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
MALACHY E. MANNION United States District Judge.
before the court is the defendant's renewed motion for
judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b).
(Doc. 223). Based upon the court's review of the motion
and related materials, the defendant's motion will be
dismissed in part and denied in part.
of relevant background, the instant insurance bad faith
action was tried before a jury from November 2, 2015, through
November 6, 2015. At the close of the plaintiff's case,
the defendant moved the court to enter judgment as a matter
of law in its favor pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a), arguing
that there was insufficient evidence presented during the
plaintiff's case from which a reasonable jury could
conclude that the defendant was liable for bad faith conduct
pursuant to Pennsylvania's bad faith statute, 42
Pa.C.S.A. §8371. The court heard argument from both
parties on the matter, after which the defendant's motion
was denied. On November 6, 2015, the jury returned a verdict
in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $100, 000.
December 4, 2015, the defendant filed the instant renewed
motion for judgment as a matter of law pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b). (Doc. 223). A supporting brief was filed
on December 18, 2015. (Doc. 226). The plaintiff filed a brief
in opposition to the defendant's motion on January 4,
2016. (Doc. 229). On January 13, 2016, the defendant filed a
reply brief. (Doc. 232).
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits a party to
move for judgment as a matter of law at any time prior to the
case being submitted to the jury. Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a)(2). In
doing so, the moving party must “specify the judgment
sought and the law and facts that entitle the movant to the
judgment”. Id. If the motion is denied, the
party may renew the motion after the jury returns its
verdict, but not later than 28 days after the entry of
judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b). In considering a Rule 50(b)
motion, the court can only address issues raised in the 50(b)
motion which were first raised in the 50(a) motion. See
Lightning Lube, Inc. v. Witco Corp., 4 F.3d 1153, 1172
(3d Cir. 1993) (“In order to preserve an issue for
judgment pursuant to Rule 50(b), the moving party must timely
move for judgment as a matter of law at the close of the
nonmovant's case, pursuant to Rule 50(a), and specify the
grounds for that motion.”).
that the motion is procedurally proper, in considering the
merits of a Rule 50(b) motion:
[T]he trial court must view the evidence in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party, and determine whether the
record contains “the minimum quantum of evidence from
which a jury might reasonably afford relief.” The court
may not weigh evidence, determine the credibility of
witnesses or substitute its version of the facts for that of
the jury. The court may, however, enter judgment
notwithstanding the verdict if upon review of the record, it
can be said as a matter of law that the verdict is not
supported by legally sufficient evidence.
Parkway Garage, Inc. v. City of Philadelphia, 5 F.3d
685, 691-92 (3d Cir. 1993), abrogation on other grounds
recognized by United Artists Theatre Circuit, Inc.
v. Twp. of Warrington, Pa., 316 F.3d 392 (3d Cir. 2003)
(citations omitted). The court may grant a Rule 50 motion
“only if, viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to the nonmovant and giving [the nonmovant] the
advantage of every fair and reasonable inference, there is
insufficient evidence from which a jury reasonably could find
liability.” Lightning Lube v. Witco Corp., 4
F.3d at 1166. The question is not whether there is literally
no evidence supporting the non-moving party, but whether
there is evidence upon which the jury could properly find for
the non-moving party. See Walter v. Holiday
Inns, Inc., 985 F.2d 1232, 1238 (3d Cir. 1993) (citing
Patzig v. O'Neil, 577 F.2d 841, 846 (3d Cir.
1978)). “[J]udgment as a matter of law should be
granted sparingly . . .” CGB Occupational Therapy,
Inc. v. RHA Health Servs., Inc., 357 F.3d 375,
383 (3d Cir. 2004).
case, the plaintiff brought a bad faith action against the
defendant relating to the defendant's handling of his
supplementary underinsured motorist, (“SUM”),
claim which arose out of a motor vehicle accident on August
26, 2009. The Pennsylvania bad faith statute reads in
In an action arising under an insurance policy, if the court
finds that the insurer has acted in bad faith toward the
insured, the court may take all of the following actions:
(1) Award interest on the amount of the claim from the date
the claim was made by the insured in an amount equal to the
prime rate of interest plus 3%.
(2) Award punitive damages against the insurer.
(3) Assess court costs and attorney fees against ...