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Southport Bank v. Miles

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

March 27, 2014

SOUTHPORT BANK, Plaintiff,
v.
CHARLES V. MILES, RANDOLPH S. MILES, and GOEKEN GROUP CORP., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN W. DARRAH, District Judge.

Plaintiff Southport Bank ("Southport") has brought this post-trial Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law, pursuant to Federal Rule of Procedure 50(b)(3), with respect to Defendant Goeken Group Corp. ("Goeken"). For the following reasons, this Motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

On December 31, 2010, Southport filed a five-count Complaint alleging two counts each against the individual Defendants, Charles Miles and Randolph Miles (Counts I through III), and one count of "Claim on Promissory Note Against Goeken Group" (Count IV). (Compl. ΒΆΒΆ 30-36.) Specifically, as more fully discussed below, Southport alleged that Goeken had entered into a promissory note and loan agreement with Defendant Randolph Miles ("Miles"); subsequently, Miles assigned the promissory note to Southport, and Goeken made no payment to Southport as assignee. After failed settlement negotiations, the case proceeded to jury trial on October 21, 2013.

After Goeken had presented its case, Southport moved for judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(a)(2), which the Court took under advisement. The jury found in Southport's favor with respect to the individual defendants on Counts I through III. However, they found in favor of Goeken with respect to Count IV. After the verdict, Southport moved for judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(b)(3).

LEGAL STANDARD

When a party's motion for judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50(a) is denied, it is considered submitted to the jury "subject to the court's later deciding the legal questions raised by the motion." Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 50(b). After judgment, the party may renew its motion and the court may direct entry of judgment as a matter of law. Id.

Weighing evidence and determining credibility are the obligations of the jury, not the court. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986)). A court "may not step in and substitute its view of the contested evidence for the jury's." Mathur v. Bd. of Trs.of S. Ill. Univ., 207 F.3d 938, 941 (7th Cir. 2000) (citations and quotation marks omitted). Therefore, a Rule 50 motion will only be granted when the evidence is construed "strictly in favor of the party who prevailed before the jury" and still will not support the verdict rendered. Passananti v. Cook Cnty., 689 F.3d 655, 659 (7th Cir. 2012) (citing Tart v. Illinois Power Co., 366 F.3d 461, 464 (7th Cir. 2011)).

ANALYSIS

The parties do not dispute that on March 31, 2004, Goeken executed the note and loan agreement in which it promised to pay Miles a sum of $2, 000, 000, plus interest, in accordance with the terms of the note and the incorporated loan agreement. (Compl. Ex. 5.)[1]

Subsequently, on November 7, 2008, Miles entered into a "Hypothecation Agreement" and an "Assignment" with Southport, both of which purported to assign to Southport the obligations of Goeken to Miles up to $4, 000, 000. (Pl.'s Tr. Exs. 13-14.) On November 17, 2008, Miles issued a letter of direction to Goeken, instructing Goeken to make any payment due to Miles directly to Southport. (Pl.'s Tr. Ex. 15.) Goeken consented to the letter of direction. ( Id. ) None of these documents - the Hypothecation Agreement, Assignment, or the letter of direction - provided a date by which payment was due.

On February 13, 2009, Goeken executed, signed, and sent to Miles a letter ("Goeken Letter") stating:

Dear Randy,
This letter serves as a summary of the outstanding undocumented consolidated loan (the "Loan"), between Goeken Group Corp. (the ...

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