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Benson v. Yaeger

November 18, 2010

EARL BENSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SERGEANT ROBERT J. YAEGER, OFFICER MICHAEL A. KIBLER AND CITY OF BATAVIA, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny Chief Judge United States District Court

DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Presently before this Court is Plaintiff Earl Benson's post-trial motion, challenging a jury's verdict that he failed to prove that Defendants violated his Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force to effectuate his arrest or committed battery in violation of New York State law. Plaintiff seeks judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure ("FRCP"), alleging that there is insufficient evidence to support the verdict. Alternatively, Plaintiff seeks a new trial pursuant to Rule 59 of the FRCP, arguing that the jury's verdict was against the weight of the evidence and that the jury instructions were erroneous. For the reasons below, Plaintiff's motion is denied.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff brought this action against Sergeant Robert J. Yaeger and Officer Michael A. Kibler, both of the Batavia Police Department, for violating his Fourth Amendment rights on March 13, 2005, when Yaeger and Kibler allegedly used excessive force to arrest him. Plaintiff also brought a claim for assault and battery against Defendants Yaeger, Kibler, and the City of Batavia under New York State law. Trial began on May 3, 2010, and ended on May 7, 2010, with the jury returning a verdict in Defendants' favor. Plaintiff filed the instant motions on June 25, 2010, within 28 days of the entry of judgment, as required by Rules 50(b) and 59(b).That same day, Plaintiff filed a notice of appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Jurisdiction

"The filing of a notice of appeal is an event of jurisdictional significance-it confers jurisdiction on the court of appeals and divests the district court of its control over those aspects of the case involved in the appeal." Griggs v. Provident Consumer Discount Co., 459 U.S. 56, 58, 103 S.Ct. 400, 402, 74 L.Ed. 2d 225 (1982); see also United States v. Camacho, 302 F.3d 35, 36 (2d Cir. 2002). An exception to this general rule is carved out in the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, which provides that

[i]f a party files a notice of appeal after the court announces or enters a judgment-but before it disposes of any motion listed in Rule 4(a)(4)(A)-the notice becomes effective to appeal a judgment or order, in whole or in part, when the order disposing of the last such remaining motion is entered.

FED. R. APP. P. 4(a)(4)(B)(i). Rule 4(a)(4)(A) includes motions "for judgment under Rule 50(b)" and "for a new trial under Rule 59." FED. R. APP. P. 4(a)(4)(A)(i), (v).

Here, because Plaintiff timely filed his post-trial motions, they suspended the effectiveness of his notice of appeal. This Court therefore has not been divested of jurisdiction over Plaintiff's instant motions and will address each one in turn.

B. Post-trial Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law

A post-trial motion for judgment as a matter of law is governed by Rule 50, which provides in relevant part:

(b) Renewing the Motion After Trial; Alternative Motion for a New Trial. If the court does not grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law made under Rule 50(a), the court is considered to have submitted the action to the jury subject to the court's later deciding the legal questions raised by the motion. No later than 28 days after the entry of judgment-or if the motion addresses a jury issue not decided by a verdict, no later than 28 days after the jury was discharged-the movant may file a ...


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