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Cornell v. Gubbles

September 29, 2010

ADELAIDE CORNELL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
RAY GUBBLES, ET AL. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harold A. Baker United States District Judge

ORDER

This cause is before the court for consideration of the defendant's renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law. [d/e 83]

The plaintiff filed her complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 claiming that her constitutional rights were violated at Dwight Correctional Center. On March 2, 2009, the case proceeded to bench trial on the following claims:

1) Defendant Ray Gubbles violated the plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights by the use of excessive force on July 9, 2004;

2) Defendant Andrew Grove violated the plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights when he failed to protect the plaintiff from the attack by Defendant Gubbles on July 9, 2004;

3) Defendant Gubbles violated the plaintiff's First and Fourth Amendment rights based on the handling of the plaintiff's letters on July 9, 2004;

4) Defendant Gubbles committed the state law offense of assault and battery on July 9, 2004; and

5) Defendant Gubbles committed the state law offense of intentional infliction of emotional distress.

At the conclusion of the trial, the court found that Defendant Gubbles had infringed the plaintiff's First, Fourth and Eighth Amendment rights and committed the state law offense of battery. However, the court found that Defendant Groves did not violated the Eighth Amendment, nor did Defendant Gubbles commit the state law offense of intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The court awarded $1,000 in compensatory damages based on Gubbles violation of the Eighth Amendment and the state law offense of battery. The court awarded $500 in compensatory damages for Gubbles violation of the First and Fourth Amendment and $1,000 in punitive damages.

Defendant Gubbles has now filed a renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law claiming that the plaintiff did not provide evidence that she suffered from any serious injury as the result of reading her mail and therefore cannot recover compensatory damage for an emotional or mental injury.

The court notes that at the conclusion of the plaintiff's case, defense counsel made a motion pursuant to Rule 52 for judgment as a matter of law on the battery claim. Counsel maintained that the plaintiff's actions were within the scope of his duties. The motion was denied. (Plain Memo, Ex.1, p. 3). Curiously, the defendant now makes his motion for a renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Federal Rule of Procedure 50(b) which applies only to jury trials. See Federal Insurance Co. V. HPSC, Inc., 480 F.3d 26, 32 (1st Cir. 2007)("The strictures of Rule 50, however, do not apply in non-jury trials.") In addition, the defendant's motion addresses an issue not raised in the previous Rule 52 motion.

The court therefore will interpret the plaintiff's motion as a motion to reconsider the court's ruling. A post-judgment motion seeking substantive relief from a judgment must be made pursuant to either Rule 59 or Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 59(e) motions to alter or amend the judgment must be filed within ten business days of the entry of judgment. Hope v. United States, 43 F.3d 1140, 1143 (7th Cir. 1994), cert. denied, 115 S.Ct. 2558 (1995). The plaintiff did not file his motion within this time frame. Therefore, the court will consider the plaintiff's motion as a motion pursuant to Rule 60 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

A motion for relief from judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b) "permits a party to seek relief from judgment on the grounds of mistake, inadvertence, excusable neglect, newly discovered evidence, and fraud." American Federation of Grain Millers, Local 24 v. Cargill Inc., 15 F.3d 726, 728 (7th Cir. 1994). Such relief is warranted "only upon a showing of extraordinary circumstances that create a substantial ...


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