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Bogaski v. County of Allegheny

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

March 26, 2018

JUSTINA BOGASKI, Plaintiff,
v.
COUNTY OF ALLEGHENY, PENNSYLVANIA, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL

          Lisa Pupo Lenihan Magistrate Judge

         I. Summation

         For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion for New Trial Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59 (ECF No. 218) will be denied.

         II. Factual and Procedural History

         The parties are familiar with the facts of the case, which need not be restated in detail here. This case was filed by Complaint on April 12, 2015 (ECF No. 1), and Amended on July 6, 2015 (ECF No. 11). Plaintiff, who resigned from Defendant's employment with the filing of her Complaint, alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”). More specifically, Plaintiff filed claims alleging a sexually hostile work environment, disparate impact, and constructive discharge. On the parties' Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment, this Court found that there were questions of material fact as to Plaintiff's hostile work environment and constructive discharge claims. ECF No. 68. At the conclusion of trial, on November 20, 2017, the jury returned a verdict in Defendant's favor. ECF No. 215.

         By her December 29, 2017 Motion for New Trial (ECF No. 218) and Brief in Support thereof (ECF No. 219), Plaintiff asserts that the jury verdict that she was not subject to sexual harassment at her place of employment was against the weight of the evidence and a miscarriage of justice, and that some evidence - specifically certain of Plaintiff's Facebook statements/postings - should not have been admitted at trial. ECF No. 219. Plaintiff also raises these contentions of error as to certain of the Facebook material: the prejudicial and improper admission of irrelevant Facebook material as character evidence, Defendant's closing argument references thereto, and the absence of a corrective jury instruction. ECF No. 219 at 6-16. Plaintiff raises three additional contended “errors of law”: restricting Plaintiff's questioning of Defendant's employee Ms. Liebenguth, retaining a jury instruction on mitigation of damages, and admitting testimony of police detective Kelley. ECF No. 219 at 16-17.

         III. Applicable Standard

         As noted above, Defendant has moved for a new trial pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59. Rule 59 states in relevant part as follows:

Rule 59. New Trial; Altering or Amending a Judgment
(a) In General.
(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 ...

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