United States District Court, D. Colorado
KLANCIE A. ROANE, Plaintiff,
FRANKIE'S BAR & GRILL, a/k/a Frankie's Inc., n/k/a Frankie's Inc. dissolved May 27, 2016, FRANKIE D. PATTON, and KATHLEEN PATTON, Defendants.
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR A NEW
CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is Plaintiff Klancie A. Roane's Motion for a
New Trial, wherein she argues that the jury's decision
not to award her emotional distress damages was against the
weight of undisputed evidence at trial. (Doc. # 68.)
Defendants Frankie's Bar & Grill and Frankie and
Kathleen Patton object to the motion, arguing that
“there was adequate evidence from which a jury could
question Plaintiff's credibility with respect to
[Plaintiff's] claims of emotional distress.” (Doc.
# 71 at 1.) For the following reasons, the Court agrees with
Defendants and denies Plaintiff's request for a new
case was tried to a jury on April 16-18, 2018. (Doc. ##
53-55.) On the third day of trial, the jury returned a
verdict finding Defendant Frankie's Bar and Grill liable
for Plaintiff's claim for pregnancy discrimination but
not for Plaintiff's claim of a hostile work environment.
(Doc. # 58 at 1.) The jury then awarded Plaintiff $500 in
back pay damages, reducing the award by $499 based on
Plaintiff's failure to mitigate those damages.
(Id. at 1-2.) The jury did not award Plaintiff any
emotional distress or punitive damages. (Id.)
motion for a new trial made on the ground that the verdict of
the jury is against the weight of the evidence normally
presents a question of fact and is left to the sound
discretion of the trial court. E.g., Harris v.
Quinones, 507 F.2d 533, 535 (10th Cir. 1974); Cmty.
Nat'l Life Ins. Co. v. Parker Square Savings & Loan
Ass'n, 406 F.2d 603, 605 (10th Cir.1969);
Champion Home Builders v. Shumate, 388 F.2d 806, 808
(10th Cir.1967); Brown v. McGraw-Edison Co., 736
F.2d 609, 616-17 (10th Cir. 1984).
standard for determining if a new trial is warranted is
whether the verdict is “clearly, decidedly, or
overwhelmingly” against the weight of the evidence.
Champion Home Builders, 388 F.2d at 808; Prebble
v. Brodrick, 535 F.2d 605, 617 (10th Cir.1976).
“[T]he jury verdict must not be preempted unless it has
no basis in fact. [In other words], the evidence must all be
one way from which only one reasonable inference can be
drawn.” Champion Home Builders, 388 F.2d at
assessing a plaintiff's motion for a new trial,
“the evidence must be viewed in a light most favorable
to the [defendants] . . . and [they] must be given the
benefit of all inferences fairly drawn therefrom.”
Id. Such motions are “regarded with disfavor
and should only be granted with great caution.”
United States v. Quintanilla, 193 F.3d 1139, 1146
(10th Cir. 1999).
the evidence in the light most favorable to Defendants, the
Court is not convinced that the jury's verdict denying
emotional distress damages was clearly, decidedly, or
overwhelmingly against the weight of the evidence.
there is no exact standard for fixing compensation in
emotional distress damages, the jury is given substantial
leeway in assessing the validity and fairness of such an
award, if any. See Canady v. J.B. Hunt Transp.,
Inc., 970 F.2d 710, 715 (10th Cir. 1992)
(“Emotional distress is an intangible damage, and is an
issue of fact within the providence of the jury.”). In
so deciding, the jury in this case was asked to consider
“the nature, character, and seriousness of any pain and
suffering, humiliation, anxiety, depression, mental anguish,
or loss of enjoyment of life that Plaintiff
experienced.” (Doc. # 56 at 16.)
evidence of emotional distress was comprised solely of her
own testimony, wherein she stated that her loss of employment
made her “completely depressed” and “ruined
[her] family completely.” (Doc. # 68-2 at 63-64.) She
added that she felt “discouraged, ” her
“family suffers, ” and she and her husband are
“separated because [she] was the sole breadwinner . . .
and could not provide for [them] anymore.”
(Id. at 12, 64.) Plaintiff did not provide the jury
with any additional information about the nature, character,
seriousness, or extent of her emotional harm or loss of
enjoyment of life, nor did she testify that she received
mental health treatment for her distress.
Plaintiff presented some evidence to support an award
emotional distress damages, Defendants countered with
evidence challenging Plaintiff's credibility. For
example, Defendants proffered evidence suggesting that
Plaintiff mislead her employer about her reasons for missing
work and had several verbal altercations with colleagues and
supervisors. Defendants also presented testimony from several
witnesses that Plaintiff took frequent and lengthy breaks and
failed to perform side duties at work, despite Plaintiff
testifying on direct examination to her good work performance
and false “write-ups.” Defendants further
presented testimony challenging Plaintiff's allegation on
direct examination that Defendant Frankie Patton yelled at
her; Defendants questioned numerous witnesses who testified
that they never heard Mr. Patton yell at anyone. A voice
recording between Mr. Patton and Plaintiff re-enforced his
Defendants' witnesses were more accurate or more credible
than Plaintiff is not for this Court to decide. The jury was
the trier of fact in this case, and this Court is only to
determine whether the jury's verdict is consistent with
the evidence. After hearing all the facts presented by both
sides of this litigation, the jury was free to assess the
credibility of Plaintiff's testimony and weigh it
accordingly. See Anaeme v. Diagnostek, Inc., 164
F.3d 1275, 1284 (10th Cir. 1999); see also Brown,
736 F.2d at 616 ("[T]he credibility of opinion
testimony, and the weight to be given it, are for the
jury."). Indeed, based on the verdict rendered, it
appears the jury did not believe Plaintiff's ...