The opinion of the court was delivered by: Blanche M. Manning United States District Judge
Defendant Southaire and Edward Brunner's motion to reconsider the court's order granting post-trial relief to the plaintiff and denying their post-trial motions or, alternatively, for certification pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b) is before the court. For the following reasons, the motion is denied in its entirety.
This court's orders are not "mere first drafts, subject to revision and reconsideration at a litigant's pleasure." Quaker Alloy Casting Co. v. Gulfco Indus., Inc., 123 F.R.D. 282, 288 (N.D. Ill. 1988). Accordingly, rehashing of previously raised arguments in a motion to reconsider is inappropriate. See Caisse Nationale de Credit Agricole v. CBI Indus., Inc., 90 F.3d 1264, 1270 (7th Cir. 1996). Thus, the court will confine its consideration to arguments based on newly discovered evidence, an intervening change in the controlling law, or alleged manifest error of law. See Hicks v. Midwest Transit, Inc., 531 F.3d 467 (7th Cir. 2008).
The court previously granted Valley Air's motion for a new trial on its fraud claim and as to damages on its breach of contract claim. It also found, among other things, that the defendants were not entitled to a setoff based on the Central Flying--Valley Air settlement.
The defendants correctly note that the court, "[w]hen faced with interrogatories that might conflict with a general verdict . . . must take the view of the case that reconciles the interrogatories with the general verdict." Turyna v. Martam Const. Co., Inc., 83 F.3d 178, 181 (7th Cir. 1996). They then assert that the jury's verdict in favor of Southaire and Brunner on Valley Air's fraud claim and its answers to the special interrogatories are consistent. The court disagrees, for the reasons set forth in its September 15, 2009, order. In short, the defendants' suggested reading of the general verdict and special interrogatories is tortured and untenable based on the specific facts and circumstances of this action.
The court also rejects the defendants' contention that the court is attempting to substitute its own judgment for the jury's based on its familiarity with this case and its evaluation of the evidence. The court's comments about the prior proceedings in this matter were merely meant to provide context for its conclusion that it would be impossible for a dispassionate and conscientious observer to reconcile the general verdict for the fraud count with the matching special interrogatories. In sum, the only way to uphold the jury's verdict in favor of the defendants as to the fraud count is to ignore the special interrogatories. Because the court declines to do so, it will not revisit its order granting post-trial relief as to the fraud count.
The defendants next seek reconsideration of the court's finding that the jury's award of $10,000, representing the actual fair market value of the plane as delivered v. the condition of the plane as promised in the contract, is not rationally linked to the evidence presented at trial. In support, they assert that the jury could have accepted the valuation of the plane performed by Valley Air's lender in September of 2005, who appraised the plane at $2,015,000.
The basis for the defendants' argument is unclear as the defendants do not explain how the jury could have found that Valley Air incurred $10,000 in direct damages at the time the plane was originally delivered based on a 2005 appraisal, or, indeed, how $10,000 in damages at the time of delivery flows from the 2005 appraisal value amount. The court also notes that the appraisal does not appear to consider the damage history that the jury found to exist. Thus, the appraisal, in and of itself, does not provide a rational basis for the jury's award of $10,000 in direct damages.
The defendants also assert that the jury could have accepted one of the categories of damages assessed by Rick Milburn and rejected the other categories. As the court previously noted, however, while the jury's assessment of damages is entitled to substantial deference, it is not controlling and may be set aside if "the jury ignored a proven element of damages; or (2) the verdict resulted from passion or prejudice; or (3) the award bore no reasonable relationship to the loss sustained." See, e.g., Snover v. McGraw, 172 Ill.2d 438, 447 (Ill. 1996).
Prior to granting Valley Air's post-trial motion addressing the breach of contract damages, the court conducted a fact-specific inquiry and, in an exercise of its discretion, concluded that it was "firmly convinced that the jury's award of $10,000 in direct damages based on the actual condition of the plane v. the condition of the plane that was promised in the contract is not rationally linked to the evidence presented at trial, is manifestly inadequate, and bears no reasonable relationship to the loss suffered by Valley Air." After carefully considering all of the evidence presented at trial and all of the defendants' post-trial filings, the court continues to be ...