United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
KATHERINE BLACK Pro se
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT NOTWITHSTANDING
THE VERDICT UNDER F.R.C.P. 50(A)
HONORABLE MATTHEW F. KENNELLY JUDGE.
Katherine Black ("Katherine"), acting pro
se, hereby moves this Court, under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 50(a), for judgment notwithstanding the verdict
(JNOV). A judgment should be entered in Katherine's favor
on the Claims Two (Defamation Per Se, against Kerr), Three
(Aiding and Abetting Defamation, against Wrigley), and Four
(Conspiracy, against Wrigley and Kerr) because no reasonable
jury could have found as it did based upon the evidence and
the instructions the jury was given. The evidence proved each
element of those claims, and that it was unreasonable for the
jury to find otherwise.
Claim Two: Defamation Per Se (against Kerr)
The Jury Instructions Given
second claim, Ms. Black alleges that Ms. Kerr committed
defamation per se against her. Under the instructions given
to the jury, Ms. Black was required to prove each of the
following propositions by a preponderance of the evidence:
1. Ms. Kerr caused a statement of fact about Ms. Black to be
made to Northwestern Law School.
2. Ms. Kerr's statement was false.
3. Ms. Kerr knew the statement was false, or she believed the
statement was true but lacked reasonable grounds for this
4. It was apparent from the words of the statement that it
prejudiced Ms. Black in her profession.
jury was further instructed that if it found that Ms. Black
had proven each of these propositions by a preponderance of
the evidence, it:
must go on to consider Ms. Kerr's defense that the
statement was substantially true. This does not require every
detail of the statement to be accurate. To succeed on this
defense, Ms. Kerr must prove by a preponderance of the
evidence that the "gist" or the "sting"
of her statement about Ms. Black was true.
No Reasonable Jury Could Find that Kerr Did Not Cause a
Statement of Fact about Ms. Black to be Made to Northwestern
"Statement of Fact" - Indisputably Met
this Court's decision on the motion to dismiss, the
"statement of fact" in question here is the
Page 15 of Ms. Litvak's letter states:
"...and the Colorado Judge Found those Allegations
credible Enough to Authorize an Investigation of Pinto 's
Conduct by a Forensic Accountant.”
Not only is this a 100% false statement... I would not have
disclosed this information if Ms. Litvak had not filed this
document with the New York Court with this completely false
relevant statements, which this Court already held to be
statements of fact, not opinion, are Kerr's assertions
that Katherine's quoted phrase is a "100% false
statement" and a "completely false statement."
These statements are the basis for the claim of defamation
"Made to Northwestern Law School" -
undisputed that Kerr's signed letter, containing this
statement was made to Northwestern Law School. Kerr emailed
her letter to Defendant Cherie Wrigley, who submitted it
through the Northwestern EthicsPoint system.
But-For Causation in Making this Statement - Indisputably
Jury Instructions require the jury to determine whether
Kerr's actions were a but-for cause for
the submission of Kerr's statements to Northwestern. Not
the sole cause, only a but-for cause. No reasonable jury
could find that it was not. If Kerr had not written her
letter, or had not made the defamatory statement of fact in
her letter, or had not sent this letter to Wrigley, or had
taken precautions to ensure this letter would not be
forwarded to Northwestern, this statement would never have
been made to Northwestern.
defense attempted to confuse the jury by claiming that Kerr
did not intend for her letter to be forwarded to
Northwestern. However, the Jury Instructions contain no
mental state requirement here, Kerr's intent is
irrelevant. The defense further attempted to confuse the jury
by claiming that Wrigley uploaded Kerr's letter to
Northwestern by mistake. But Wrigley's intent is also
irrelevant. The only thing that the jury could legally
consider is whether but-for Kerr's actions, the statement
of fact would have been made to Northwestern. The answer is
all elements of point 1 of the instructions are clearly met,
and no reasonable jury could have found otherwise.
No Reasonable Jury Could Find that Kerr's Statement to
Northwestern Law School Was Not
statement of fact - that the language she quoted from
Katherine's letter is "100% false" and
"completely false”, it unquestionably false.
Court Authorized a Forensic Accountant to Investigate
Pinto's Conduct - Undisputable
proceedings referenced in Ms. Black's letter, the
Colorado court issued the following order: [Pl. Exh. 30; Mot.
Exh. 4] (emphasis added)
The parties have stipulated to a forensic accounting of the
Conservatorship estate... - in short, a complete
review of all funds and assets related to
Joanne Black both before and after the disclaimer, by Pamela
8. Mr. Pinto shall provide a complete accounting with
documentation of all funds that were held under his control
to Ms. Kerr...
Pinto was ordered by the court to turn over
"a complete accounting with documentation of all funds
that were held under his control to Ms. Kerr", them Kerr
was at least "authorized" to
inspect them. There is no other purpose to order someone to
turn over all documentation to a forensic accountant than to
at least authorize said forensic accountant to investigate
this documentation and the conduct that it reflects.
Kerr was required to perform "a complete review of all
funds and assets related to Joanne Black." This included
the "funds that were held under [Pinto's] control,
" Kerr's assigned task - a complete review - thus
included those funds. Once again, Kerr was at least
''authorized” to investigate Pinto's
handling of those funds.
defense attempted to confuse the jury by claiming that:
(1) the investigation of Pinto was not the only, or even the
main, purpose of the Colorado court order (irrelevant);
(2) that Kerr was originally engaged by the Guardian-ad-Li
tern, and only later appointed by the court (irrelevant);
(3) that Kerr spent limited time investigating Pinto
(4) that Kerr did not submit any reports or recommendations
regarding Pinto (irrelevant).
this is relevant to the question of whether Kerr was
authorized to investigate Pinto's conduct, as part of her
Kerr in Fact Performed Extensive Investigation of
Pinto's Conduct and Reported Her Preliminary Findings
jury saw in evidence the letter from Kerr to several parties,
including Bernard Black and Cherie Wrigley, Guardian-ad-Litem
and several attorneys. In that letter, Kerr summarized the
results of her extensive investigation of Pinto's
conduct, requested more documents from several parties, and
concluded that Pinto diverted at least $41, 000 to himself.
[Pl. Exh. 44, Mot. Exh. 11] The excerpts below give the
flavor for how detailed Kerr's investigation of Pinto
• I absolutely need receipts for all of the Flight.
Hotel/Motel, Rental Car, Gas, Motel, Storage, etc. etc. Since
Joanne is a Protected Person and her funds are under
jurisdiction of the Court, every expense has to be properly
documented. I need receipts for all of these expenses in
columns G through P. I have not included the column for
tolls, but what are those for? Did Esaun actually go to see
Joanne? The charges just say $39/week or along those lines. ...