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James v. Sheklanian

August 25, 2010

JOHN JUSTIN JAMES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SHANT SHEKLANIAN, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Oliver W. Wanger United States District Judge

PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR NEW MEMORANDUM DECISION REGARDING TRIAL (Doc. 85)

I. INTRODUCTION

On April 28, 2010, the jury returned its verdict in this action. The jury found that Madera Police Officer Shant Sheklanian ("Defendant") unlawfully used excessive force in the arrest of John James ("Plaintiff") in violation of Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. (Doc. 79). However, the jury also found that Defendant's Fourth Amendment violation was not the cause of harm or damage to Plaintiff. (Id.). Corresponding to instructions on the verdict form, the jury made no finding as to damages.

On May 28, 2010, Plaintiff filed a motion seeking: (1) to set aside the judgment; (2) to grant judgment as a matter of law; (3) to amend the judgment; or (4) a new trial. (Doc. 85).

Defendant filed opposition to Plaintiff's motion on June 17, 2010. (Doc. 89).

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND.*fn1

On January 26, 2007, at or about 11:20 p.m., an altercation arose inside the Back Street Bar & Grill in Madera ("the Bar"), California. Approximately 20 to 30 patrons exited the bar, and several individuals began fighting in the street. Plaintiff exited the Bar and attempted to intervene in a confrontation between one of his friends and another person. A few moments later, several Madera Police Officers arrived at the scene.

Although the circumstances surrounding Defendant's use of force on Plaintiff are subject to dispute, it is undisputed that Defendant tackled Plaintiff, punched Plaintiff after tackling him, and later utilized his taser on Plaintiff. Plaintiff was then arrested, placed in the back of a patrol car, and taken to a local hospital where he was treated for his injuries. Plaintiff paid approximately $466 dollars for medical care related to the injuries he sustained on January 26, 2007.

Plaintiff testified that the taser strike was "very painful" and that he had "a lot of pain" in his left shoulder for about three weeks after the attack. Two taser barbs where lodged in Plaintiff's chest area and where not removed until Plaintiff arrived at the hospital. Plaintiff also sustained a laceration and a knot above his left eye. Plaintiff stated that he experienced limitations with respect to his ability to lift items over two pounds, to lay down with his arms in certain positions, and to engage in recreational activities. At the time of trial, tension and pain in Plaintiff's shoulder persisted.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50 provides, in pertinent part:

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, the court may:

(A) resolve the issue against the party; and

(B) grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law against the party on a claim or defense that, under the controlling law, can be maintained or defeated ...


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