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FLYNN v. GOLDMAN
November 8, 1993
JOANNE FLYNN, Plaintiff,
GOLDMAN, SACHS & CO., Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: KIMBA M. WOOD
Joanne Flynn claims that her former employer, Goldman, Sachs & Co., discriminated against her because of her sex by
(1) failing to promote her to the position of Manager of Training and Development;
(2) failing to name her to the position of Manager of Sales Training as of December 13, 1988;
(4) giving her a severance package inferior to that of similarly situated male employees,
in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. and the New York Human Rights Law ("NYHRL"), N.Y. Exec. L. § 296.
The state law claims were tried before a jury from October 7, 1993 through October 25, 1993; the Title VII claims were tried simultaneously, before the court. At the close of all the evidence, Goldman Sachs moved for judgment as a matter of law with respect to the claims to be decided by the jury pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a). The court reserved ruling on the motion at that time. Following the jury's verdict in favor of Ms. Flynn on the liability portion of all four state law claims, Goldman Sachs renewed its motion for judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Rule 50(b).
In the alternative, Goldman Sachs moved for a new trial pursuant to Fed.R. Civ.P. 59 on the ground that the verdict is against the weight of the evidence. For the following reasons, the court grants the motion for judgment as a matter of law and, in the alternative, grants the motion for a new trial.
I. Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law
Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a)(1) states the standard for granting a motion for judgment as a matter of law:
If during a trial by jury a party has been fully heard with respect to an issue and there is no legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to have found for the party with respect to that issue, the court may grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law against that party on any claim . . . that cannot under the controlling law be maintained without a favorable finding on that issue.
(emphasis added). In this circuit, such a motion may be granted only where "there is such a complete absence of evidence supporting the verdict that the jury's finding could only have been the result of sheer surmise and conjecture" or if the evidence is "so overwhelming that reasonable and fair minded persons could only have reached the opposite result." Lambert v. Genesee Hospital, 1993 U.S. App. LEXIS 24173 *14 (2d Cir. Sept. 17, 1993). In deciding a motion under Rule 50, made either before the verdict or after, the court may not weigh the evidence or pass on the credibility of witnesses, where credibility is at issue. Instead, the court must view the evidence most favorably to the party against whom the motion is made and give that party the benefit of all legitimate inferences that may be drawn from the evidence. See Samuels v. Air Transport Local 504, 992 F.2d 12, 14, 16 (2d Cir. 1993). However, the party bearing the burden of proof cannot create an issue for the jury's resolution by relying solely on the hope that the jury will not trust the credibility of the witnesses. "'If all the witnesses deny that an event essential to plaintiff's case occurred, she cannot get to the jury simply because the jury might disbelieve these denials. There must be some affirmative evidence that the event occurred.'" See Martin v. Citibank, 762 F.2d 212, 217 (2d Cir. 1985), ...
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