Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Vahora v. Valley Diagnostics Laboratory Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. California

November 13, 2019

GULAMNABI VAHORA, Plaintiff,
v.
VALLEY DIAGNOSTICS LABORATORY, INC., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL OR TO AMEND THE JUDGMENT ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW (DOCS. 155, 156)

          SHEILA K. OBERTO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On May 17, 2019, a jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff and judgment was entered on May 21, 2019. (Docs. 152, 153.) On June 4, 2019, Defendants filed post-trial motions for a new trial to amend the judgment, or for relief from the judgment, and for judgment as a matter of law. (Docs. 155, 156.) Plaintiff filed responses in opposition on June 14, 2019. (Docs. 158, 159.)

         Defendant Naeem Qarni (“Qarni”) filed a notice of bankruptcy filing on June 21, 2019, and the Court vacated the hearing on the post-trial motions and directed the parties to brief the issue of whether the automatic stay under 11 U.S.C. § 362(a) would apply to stay this case. (See Docs. 162, 163, 165.) Thereafter, the bankruptcy court granted relief from the automatic stay under 11 U.S.C. § 362(a) to allow any post-trial motions and appeals from the judgment in this case to proceed. (See Docs. 174, 176.) Upon review of the motions and supporting documents, the Court deemed the matters suitable for decision without oral argument pursuant to Local Rule 230(g). Accordingly, no hearing was set on the post-trial motions. (See Doc. 176 at 2.)

         For the reasons that follow, the Court hereby denies the motions.

         II. RELEVANT PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND [1]

         This case involves a business dispute between Plaintiff and Defendants VDL and Naeem Qarni. In the operative Second Amended Complaint (SAC), Plaintiff alleged the following causes of action: breach of contract against Qarni as to the partnership agreement; breach of contract against both Defendants; breach of contract against Qarni as to the personal loan agreement; and conversion against VDL.[2] (Doc. 43 at 22-27.)

         Trial commenced on May 14, 2019.[3] (Doc. 138.) Plaintiff testified at trial and completed his testimony on the second day of trial; Plaintiff then called Alfonso Flores (“Flores”), a former employee of VDL, as his second witness. (See Doc. 140.) Plaintiff rested his case on May 16, 2019. (Doc. 145.)

         At the conclusion of Plaintiff's case in chief, Defendants filed a motion for judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, on which the Court deferred ruling until the close of evidence. (Doc. 139; see Doc. 145; Doc. 170 at 266.) In their Rule 50 motion, Defendants requested that the Court enter judgment as a matter of law on Plaintiff's first claim for breach of contract as to the partnership between Plaintiff and Qarni. (Doc. 139 at 1-2.) Defendants contended that because Plaintiff had not pleaded an accounting of the partnership assets, Plaintiff's first claim had not accrued because the partnership had never terminated, and further that a judicial dissolution and accounting is the only permissible action between partners. (See id.)

         On May 17, 2019, the Court denied Defendants' Rule 50 motion on the record and outside the presence of the jury. (See Doc. 171 at 28.) In relevant part, the Court stated:

Defendant[s'] motion for judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Rule 50 of the Federal Rule[s] of Civil Procedure on plaintiff's partnership claim is essentially very similar if not essentially the same as defendant[s'] motion in limine number 4 in which defendant[s] contended that an accounting is a condition precedent to [a lawsuit] by one partner against another and that plaintiff has failed to plead a cause of action for an accounting. That motion in limine was denied.
And as in that motion in limine, here defendants contend that since plaintiff has failed to provide an accounting, he's failed to establish an essential element of the claim. There are several exceptions to the historical rule prohibiting one partner from suing another partner without an accounting of the partnership profits. One of these exceptions is a partner suing to enforce his or her rights under the partnership agreement pursuant to California Corporations Code 16405(b), which is the case here, and for the reasons that I just stated, the Rule 50 motion is denied.

(Id. at 27-28.)

         On May 17, 2019, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff on all four claims. (Doc. 152.) On Plaintiff's first claim for relief (breach of the partnership agreement by Qarni), the jury determined that Qarni breached the partnership agreement with Plaintiff, the partnership did not terminate before October 26, 2014, and Qarni's breach of the partnership agreement caused Plaintiff $100, 000 in damages. (Id. at 2.) On the second claim (breach of the VDL loan agreement by VDL), the jury found that VDL breached its contract with Plaintiff; VDL was not profitable before October 26, 2014; and VDL's breach of the loan agreement caused Plaintiff $158, 175 in damages. (Id. at 3-4.) On Plaintiff's third claim (breach of the VDL loan agreement by Qarni), the jury found that Qarni breached his contract with Plaintiff, and the breach caused Plaintiff $65, 232 in damages. (Id. at 4-5.) On the fourth claim for relief[4] (breach of the personal loan agreement by Qarni), the jury determined that Qarni breached his agreement with Plaintiff, and the breach caused Plaintiff $75, 000 in damages. (Id. at 5-6.) Thus, the monetary judgment awarded against Qarni totaled $240, 232 and the judgment awarded against VDL totaled $158, 175. (See id.) The Court entered judgment pursuant to the jury's verdict on May 21, 2019. (Doc. 153.)

         On June 4, 2019, Defendants filed post-trial motions seeking relief under Rule 59 and Rule 60. (Docs. 155, 156.) Defendants' motions are presently before the Court.

         III. LEGAL STANDARDS

         A. Rule 59 Motion for New Trial

         Under Rule 59 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a district court has discretion to grant a new 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). As “Rule 59 does not specify the grounds on which a motion for a new trial may be granted, ” courts are “bound by those grounds that have been historically recognized.” Zhang v. Am. Gem Seafoods, Inc., 339 F.3d 1020, 1035 (9th Cir. 2003). Grounds recognized as permitting a new trial include (1) a verdict that is contrary to the weight of the evidence, (2) a verdict that is based on false or perjurious evidence, or (3) to prevent a miscarriage of justice. Molski v. M.J. Cable, Inc., 481 F.3d 724, 729 (9th Cir. 2007). The decision whether to grant a motion for a new trial lies within the discretion of the trial judge. See Merrick v. Paul Revere Life Ins. Co., 500 F.3d 1007, 1013 (9th Cir. 2007). The Ninth Circuit has provided the following guidance for ruling on such motions:

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 . . . If, having given full respect to the jury's findings, the judge on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed, it is to be expected that he will grant a new trial.

Landes Const. Co., Inc. v. Royal Bank of Canada, 833 F.2d 1365, 1371-72 (9th Cir. 1987) (citing C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure § 2806 at 48-49 (1973)). “The judge can weigh evidence and assess the credibility of witnesses, and need not view the evidence from the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.