United States District Court, E.D. California
HONORABLE STEPHEN M. MCNAMEE SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT
the Court is Plaintiff Brandy Brewer's
(“Brewer”) Motion for New Trial. (Doc. 120.)
Defendant Leprino Foods Company, Inc. (“Leprino”)
filed its Opposition (Doc. 127), and Brewer filed her Reply
in support (Doc. 129). After review and consideration, the
Court will deny Brewer's motion.
April 25, 2016, Brewer filed her Complaint, alleging four
causes of action against her former employer, Leprino: (1)
wrongful discharge in violation of the public policies
articulated in California Labor Code § 1102.5,
California Government Code § 12940, and the Family and
Medical Leave Act; (2) gender discrimination in violation of
Cal. Gov't Code § 12940(a); (3) failure to take
reasonable steps to prevent discrimination in the workplace
in violation of Cal. Gov't Code § 12940(k); and (4)
intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Doc. 1 at 14,
filed a motion for summary judgment on December 15, 2017.
(Doc. 33.) The Court granted in part and denied in part
Leprino's motion, dismissing Brewer's causes of
action for wrongful discharge in violation of the public
policy articulated in Cal. Labor Code § 1102.5 and
intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Doc. 36 at
16.) Then, in a November 13, 2018 Order, the Court granted
Leprino's motion for summary judgment on the issue of
punitive damages. (Doc. 44 at 15.)
February 6, 2019, a Final Pretrial Conference was held in
this matter. (Doc. 76.) At the hearing, the Court ruled on
the parties' motions in limine, including granting
Leprino's Motion in Limine No. 2 to preclude evidence of
an alleged romantic relationship between Leprino employees
Jennifer Miranda (“Miranda”) and Oscar Martinez
(“Martinez”). (Id. at 1-2.) In addition,
the Court took under advisement Leprino's Motion in
Limine No. 1 and ordered simultaneous supplemental briefing
on the issue. (Id. at 2-3.) In ruling on
Leprino's Motion in Limine No. 1, the Court found, inter
alia, that Brewer failed to allege a cause of action for
wrongful discharge in violation of the public policy embodied
in Cal. Gov't Code § 12940(h). (Doc. 85 at 7.)
trial was held in this matter on April 1, 2019 through April
10, 2019. (Docs. 96-99, 101, 104-06.) The jury returned a
verdict in favor of Leprino. (Docs. 106, 110.)
filed the instant motion on May 9, 2019, moving for a new
trial and requesting that the Court alter or amend its
previous rulings. (Doc. 120.) The motion is now ripe for
LEGAL STANDARD A. Motion for New Trial
court may, on motion, grant a new trial on all or some of the
issues . . . after a jury trial, for any reason for which a
new trial has heretofore been granted in an action at law in
federal court.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(a)(1)(A). Although Rule
59 does not specify the grounds on which a new trial may be
granted, “the court is bound by those grounds that have
been historically recognized.” Molski v. M.J.
Cable, Inc., 481 F.3d 724, 729 (9th Cir. 2007) (internal
quotations and citation omitted). A court may order a new
trial if “the verdict is contrary to the clear weight
of the evidence, or is based upon evidence which is false, or
to prevent, in the sound discretion of the trial court, a
miscarriage of justice.” Silver Sage Partners, Ltd.
v. City of Desert Hot Springs, 251 F.3d 814, 819 (9th
Cir. 2001) (internal quotations and citation omitted). A new
trial may also be warranted where erroneous evidentiary
rulings “substantially prejudiced” a party.
Ruvalcaba v. City of Los Angeles, 64 F.3d 1323, 1328
(9th Cir. 1995) (internal quotations and citation omitted).
Further, a courts failure to provide adequate jury
instructions may also provide a basis for a new trial unless
the error was harmless. See Watson v. City of San
Jose, 800 F.3d 1135, 1140-41 (9th Cir. 2015); see
also Murphy v. City of Long Beach, 914 F.2d 183, 187
(9th Cir. 1990).
determining whether a new trial is warranted, “[t]he
judge can weigh the evidence and assess the credibility of
witnesses, and need not view the evidence from the
perspective most favorable to the prevailing party.”
Landes Const. Co. v. Royal Bank of Canada, 833 F.2d
1365, 1371 (9th Cir. 1987) (citation omitted). However,
“a decent respect for the collective wisdom of the
jury, and for the function entrusted to it in our system,
certainly suggests that in most cases the judge should accept
the findings of the jury, regardless of his own doubts in the
matter.” Id. (internal quotations and citation
Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment
may alter, amend, or reconsider its previous judgment,
including a grant of summary judgment, pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). See Fed.R.Civ.P.
59(e); Sch. Dist. No. 1J, Multnomah Cty., Or. v. ACandS,
Inc., et al., 5 F.3d 1255, 1263 (9th Cir. 1993). Under
Rule 59(e), reconsideration is appropriate if: (1) there is
an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the court is
presented with newly discovered evidence; or (3) the court
committed clear error and its decision was manifestly unjust.
389 Orange St. Partners v. Arnold, 179 F.3d 656, 665
(9th Cir. 1999) (citing Sch. Dist. No. 1J, Multnomah
Cty., Or., 5 F.3d at 1263). Evidence is newly discovered
if it was previously unknown or unavailable during the
original proceeding. See S.E.C. v. Platforms Wireless
Intern. Corp., 617 F.3d 1072, 1100 (9th Cir. 2010)
(citing Frederick S. Wyle Prof'l Corp. v. Texaco,
Inc., 764 F.2d 604, 609 (9th Cir. 1985)).
for reconsideration are generally disfavored and should be
granted only in rare circumstances. Defs. of Wildlife v.
Browner, 909 F.Supp. 1342, 1351 (D. Ariz. 1995). Such
motions should not be used to ask a court “‘to
rethink what the court had already thought through - rightly
or wrongly.'” Id. (citation omitted).
motion for reconsideration “may not be used to
raise arguments or present evidence for the first time when
they could reasonably have been raised earlier in
litigation.” Kona Enters., Inc. v. Estate of
Bishop, 229 F.3d 877, 890 (9th Cir. 2000) (emphasis in
original) (citing 389 Orange St. Partners, 179 F.3d
at 665). In addition, motions for reconsideration may not be
used to relitigate old matters. Exxon Shipping Co. v.
Baker, 554 U.S. 471, 485 n.5 (2008) (citation omitted);
Backlund v. Barnhart, 778 F.2d 1386, 1388 (9th Cir.
1985). Nor may a motion for reconsideration repeat any
argument previously made in support of or in opposition to a
motion. Motorola, Inc. v. J.B. Rodgers Mech. Contractors,
Inc., 215 F.R.D. 581, 586 (D. Ariz. 2003). Mere
disagreement with a previous order is an insufficient basis
for reconsideration. See Bussie v. Boehner, No. CV
14-0127-PHX-RCB (DKD), 2014 WL 6630155, at *1 (D. Ariz. Nov.
21, 2014) (citing Leong v. Hilton Hotels Corp., 689
F.Supp. 1572, 1573 (D. Haw. 1988)).
to Rule 59(a) and (e), Brewer moves for a new trial or for
the Court to alter or amend its previous Orders based upon
the following: (1) the Court erred in dismissing Brewer's
claims of wrongful discharge in violation of the public
policies embodied in Cal. Labor Code § 1102.5 and Cal.
Gov't Code § 12940(h) (“Brewer's
Retaliation Claims”); (2) the Court erred in granting
summary judgment on the issue of punitive damages; (3) the
Court erred in precluding evidence of an alleged romantic
relationship; (4) the Court erred in precluding as hearsay a
prior inconsistent statement; (5) the Court erred in denying
Brewer's request for a mistrial based upon Leprino's
Golden Rule violation; and (6) the Court erred in denying
Brewer's request for a same-sex gender discrimination
jury instruction. (Doc. 120 at 5-15.) The Court addresses
each ground in turn.
Ground No. 1: Brewer's Retaliation Claims
to Rule 59(e), Brewer moves the Court to alter or amend its
decision that dismissed Brewer's causes of action for
wrongful discharge in violation of the public policies
embodied in Cal. Labor Code § 1102.5 ...