United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
DELANA D. DITTERLINE, TERRY L. DITTERLINE, BRYAN A. DITTERLINE, and BRANDON A. DITTERLINE, Plaintiffs,
KITISHA N. RAY, DUSTIN TURSKA, and LYLE WOMACK, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PHIL GILBERT DISTRICT JUDGE.
a jury trial, defendant Dustin Turska filed a renewed motion
for judgment as a matter of law and a motion for a new trial.
(Docs. 90, 91.) For the following reasons, the Court
DENIES both motions.
a Fourth Amendment excessive force case arising from a brawl
between a family-the Ditterlines-and law enforcement
officers. The parties forcibly disputed the material facts,
and the Court outlined those facts in its order granting in
part and denying in part the defendants' motion for
summary judgment. (See generally Doc. 54.)
Basically, two of the Ditterlines-Terry and Bryan-quarreled
with an officer-Dustin Turska-in a parking lot, and then they
allegedly tried to run Turska over with their truck on the
way out. Several officers followed Terry and Bryan back to
the Ditterline family home, where more parties emerged and
skirmished in the yard. The officers then arrested several of
the Ditterlines, and the Ditterlines later brought this suit
alleging that the officers used excessive force during the
arrests. (Id.; see also Compl., Doc. 6.)
case proceeded to a jury trial. Each Ditterline alleged one
or two excessive force claims, but the jury found for the
defendants on every claim except one: Terry Ditterline's
claim against Officer Dustin Turska. (Doc. 73, pp. 3-4.) The
jury awarded Terry Ditterline $500.00 in compensatory damages
and $2, 000.00 in punitive damages for that claim.
(Id.) Later, Turska filed two post-trial motions:
one renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(b) and another one for
a new trial. (Docs. 90, 91.)
Judgment as a Matter of Law
Court may direct entry of judgment as a matter of law during
trial if “a party has been fully heard on an issue
during a jury trial and 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). If the Court denies the motion, the moving party
may renew it after entry of judgment on the verdict.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b). In response to a post-verdict motion
under Rule 50(b), the Court may allow the judgment to stand,
order a new trial, or direct entry of judgment as a matter of
law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b)(1).
ruling on the motion, the Court should consider all of the
evidence, but must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of
the non-moving party and must not make credibility
determinations or weigh the evidence. Reeves v. Sanderson
Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000).
“That is, the court should give credence to the
evidence favoring the nonmovant as well as that
‘evidence supporting the moving party that is
uncontradicted and unimpeached, at least to the extent that
that evidence comes from disinterested witnesses.'”
Id. at 151 (quoting 9A C. Wright & A. Miller,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 2529, at 300
(2d ed. 1995)). This standard mirrors the standard for
summary judgment. Reeves, 530 U.S. at 150 (citing
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 250-51 (1986)); Murray v. Chicago Transit
Auth., 252 F.3d 880, 887 (7th Cir. 2001).
Motion for a New Trial
59(a)(1)(A) allows the Court to grant a new jury trial
“for any reason for which a new trial has heretofore
been granted in an action at law in federal court.”
This includes where the verdict is against the manifest
weight of the evidence or the trial was unfair to the moving
party. Venson v. Alamirano, 749 F.3d 641, 657 (7th
Cir. 2014); Kapelanski v. Johnson, 390 F.3d 525, 530
(7th Cir. 2004). A verdict is against the manifest weight of
the evidence only if, viewing the evidence in favor of the
non-moving party, no rational jury could have rendered the
verdict. EEOC v. AutoZone, Inc., 809 F.3d 916, 919
(7th Cir. 2016).
a new trial based on an erroneous jury instruction, the
movant “must show that: 1) the instructions did not
adequately state Seventh Circuit law[, ] and 2) it was
prejudiced by the error because the jury was likely confused
or misled.” Susan Wakeen Doll Co., Inc. v. Ashton
Drake Galleries, 272 F.3d 441, 452 (7th Cir. 2001). This
analysis “is guided by common sense.” Guzman
v. City of Chicago, 689 F.3d 740, 745 (7th Cir. 2012)
(citing Lewis v. City of Chi. Police Dep't, 590
F.3d 427, 433 (7th Cir. 2009)). The Court must ensure that
the “correct message [was conveyed] to the jury
reasonably well” when viewed in the light of the other
instructions, the evidence, and the arguments in the case.
Id. (quoting Gile v. United Airlines, Inc.,
213 F.3d 365, 375 (7th Cir. 2000).
Turska's Motion for ...