United States District Court, E.D. California
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)
K. OBERTO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
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.)
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.)
reasons that follow, the Court hereby denies the motions.
RELEVANT PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND 
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
(Doc. 43 at 22-27.)
commenced on May 14, 2019. (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.)
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.)
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
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.)
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 (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.)
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.
Rule 59 Motion for New Trial
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
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