United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
O. HICKEY CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment as a Matter
of Law and, Alternatively, for New Trial on Damages. (ECF No.
77). Defendant has filed a response in opposition. (ECF No.
78). Plaintiff has filed a reply. (ECF No. 79). The Court
finds this matter ripe for consideration.
case originated as a negligence and conversion action.
Plaintiff is a mechanic and inventor who constructed a
cardboard mockup of a new automotive radiator design.
Defendant is in the business of buying, selling, and
manufacturing automotive radiators. Plaintiff shipped the
mockup prototype to Defendant with the intention that
Defendant fabricate a radiator based on Plaintiff's
design. Defendant admits that it received then subsequently
lost Plaintiff's cardboard mockup.
trial in this matter was held on July 25, 2016. At trial,
Plaintiff argued that the fair market value of his prototype
was at least several hundred thousand, if not millions of
dollars.Meanwhile, Defendant contended that the
cardboard prototype, by virtue of being constructed of
cardboard, was essentially worthless. On July 26, 2016, the jury
awarded Plaintiff $1.00 in nominal damages and $63, 000.00 in
August 19, 2016, Defendant filed its Motion for a New Trial
or Remittitur, arguing that there was not substantial
evidence on which a jury could base an award of $63, 000.00.
The Court found that there was no evidence to support an
award of $63, 000.00 because Plaintiff had argued for a much
higher amount and Defendant had argued that the prototype had
little to no value. Accordingly, the Court granted
Defendant's motion and ordered a new trial on damages.
second trial on damages was held on February 21, 2018.
Plaintiff and Defendant made similar arguments as to the fair
market value of the prototype. After deliberation, the jury
awarded Plaintiff $100.00 in damages.
March 9, 2018, Plaintiff filed the instant motion, arguing
that he is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, or in the
alternative, a new trial on damages because Defendant failed
to introduce any “competent evidence” of the
prototype's value and because the Court erred on several
evidentiary rulings. (ECF No. 77, pp. 3-7). Defendant opposes
Court now addresses whether Plaintiff is entitled to judgment
as a matter of law or, alternatively, to a new trial on
Whether Plaintiff is Entitled to Judgement as a Matter of Law
or Alternatively to a New Trial on Damages
as a matter of law is appropriate when “the court finds
that a reasonable jury would not have a legally sufficient
evidentiary basis to find for the party on that issue.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a)(1). Post-verdict judgment as a matter of
law is appropriate only where the evidence is entirely
insufficient to support the verdict. Belk v. City of
Eldon, 228 F.3d 872, 877-78 (8th Cir. 2000). Moreover, a
new trial should be only granted to avoid a
“miscarriage of justice.” Id.
Judgment as a Matter of Law
argues that he is entitled to judgement as a matter of law
because Defendant did not produce any “competent
evidence” of the prototype's fair market value at
trial. Specifically, Plaintiff argues that Defendant's
witness was not qualified to estimate the value of the
prototype because the witness did not buy or sell prototypes
and only dealt in finished products. Plaintiff further
contends that the jury's award was improperly based on
evidence that Plaintiff declared ...