United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Division
ORDER AND OPINION
E. Shadid Chief United States District Judge.
before the Court is the Plaintiff, Jason Dallefeld's,
Motion for Back Pay, Employment Benefits, Interest,
Liquidated Damages, and Front Pay (“Motion for Back
Pay”). (D. 56). The Defendant, The Clubs at River City,
Inc. (“The Clubs”), filed a Response (D. 58), as
well as a Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law. (D.
59). The Plaintiff has filed a Reply to the Defendant's
Response (D. 64) and a Response to the Defendant's
Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law. (D. 66). In
turn, the Plaintiff filed a Renewed Motion for Judgment as a
Matter of Law (D. 62) and the Defendant filed a Response (D.
65). For the reasons set forth below, the parties'
Renewed Motions for Judgment as a Matter of Law are DENIED
and the Plaintiff's Motion for Back Pay is DENIED in part
and GRANTED in part.
Court and the parties have briefed the background in this
case extensively. What follows, are portions of the relevant
facts pertinent to the motions presently before the Court.
Plaintiff filed the instant suit in June 2015. (D. 1). He
alleged violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act
(“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et.
seq.; Title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act of
1990 (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1211 et.
seq.; and retaliatory discharge under Illinois common
law. (D. 1 at pg. 1). The Plaintiff's FMLA claim alleged
two violations: interference with his rights under FMLA and
retaliation for exercising those rights.
Plaintiff worked for the Defendant as its Director of
Membership Sales. His annual salary was $46, 800. He
aggravated a preexisting injury to his right knee while at
work. The Plaintiff's medical treatment provider, Blair
Rhode, declared the Plaintiff incapable of working for the
Defendant on March 26, 2014 due to his injury. The Plaintiff
did not explicitly request FMLA leave and the Defendant did
not offer it to him at that time. Testimony later confirmed
that a Defendant employee was trained in FMLA employee
rights, all employees were informed of their FMLA rights at
the time they were hired, and an FMLA summary was posted at
the Defendant premises. The Defendant did give the Plaintiff
time off of work and paid him as if he was working until
April 13, 2014. During this time, the Plaintiff went to
Florida and some of the Defendant's employees noticed
pictures of him on the beach that were posted on Facebook.
21, 2014, Rhode issued a note stating that the Plaintiff
could return to work for the Defendant on a modified light
duty basis. The Plaintiff claims he immediately provided this
note to the Defendant. The Defendant denies ever receiving
it. The parties met on June 2, 2014 and The Clubs owner told
the Plaintiff to get his knee surgery done. There was no
mention of the Plaintiff being terminated.
later issued another note stating that the Plaintiff could no
longer work for the Defendant on June 4, 2014. On June 13,
2014, the Defendant mailed the Plaintiff a letter terminating
his employment. The letter was dated June 1, 2014. Rhode
successfully performed knee surgery on the Plaintiff on June
17, 2014. Rhode issued another modified light duty note for
the Plaintiff on August 13, 2014.
August 2017, the Court presided over the jury trial. The
parties stipulated that if the Plaintiff prevailed, the Court
would determine his entitlement to “lost compensation,
the amount of interest, whether liquidated damages should be
reduced, front pay, and reasonable attorney fees and costs of
litigation.” (D. 45 at pg. 8). At trial, the Plaintiff
testified that he could not give tours of the Defendant's
facility upon his release to light duty. While giving tours
was not listed in his written job description, the Plaintiff
stated that it was part of what made him good at his job,
selling membership to prospective clients. After the
Plaintiff rested, the Defendant orally moved for a directed
verdict as a matter of law on all of the Plaintiff's
counts. The Court dismissed the Plaintiff's FMLA
retaliation claim but otherwise denied the Defendant's
the remaining evidence was presented, the Plaintiff moved for
judgment as a matter of law on all remaining counts. The
Court denied the Plaintiff's motion. Ultimately, the jury
found for the Plaintiff on his FMLA interference claim, and
for the Defendant on the rest of the counts. (D. 53).
Plaintiff filed his Motion for Back Pay shortly after the
trial concluded. (D. 56). He asserts that he is entitled to a
host of damages, in excess of $417, 000. (D. 57 at pg. 19).
The Defendant responds that the Plaintiff cannot prevail on
his FMLA claim as a matter of law, and is therefore entitled
to no damages. (D. 58 at pg. 2). Alternatively, the Defendant
argues the damages should be limited to the 10 days in which
he was authorized to work light duty while still employed by
the Defendant. Id. at pg. 4. Both parties further
assert that they are entitled to a grant of their Renewed
Motions for Judgment as a Matter of Law. (D. 59; 62).
initial matter, the Court addresses the parties' Renewed
Motions for Judgment as a Matter of Law. District courts may
enter judgment against a party who has been fully heard on an
issue during a jury trial when “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) (motion
for judgment as a matter of law), (b) (renewed motion for
judgment as a matter of law). In deciding a Rule 50 motion,
the Court construes the evidence strictly in favor of the
party who prevailed before the jury and examines the evidence
only to determine whether the jury's verdict could have
reasonably been based on that evidence. Passananti v.
Cook County, 689 F.3d 655, 659 (7th Cir. 2012). The
Court is obliged to leave such judgments undisturbed unless
the moving party can show that no rational jury could have
brought in a verdict against it. Hossack v. Floor
Covering Associates of Joliet, Inc., 492 F.3d 853, 859
(7th Cir. 2007).
of the parties in this case have convinced the Court that the
jury's verdicts were irrational. As such, both
parties' Renewed Motions for Summary Judgment as a Matter
of Law (D. 59; D. 62) are DENIED.