United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Nathaniel M. Gorton, United States District Judge
Anthony Provanzano (“plaintiff”) brought this
case against defendant MTD Products Company
(“MTD” or “defendant”) with respect
to an incident during which four of plaintiff's fingers
were amputated by a Troy-Bilt 26J Mini Rider riding lawn
mower. Plaintiff generally alleged that the lawn mower, which
was manufactured by defendant, was defective and unreasonably
dangerous and, as a result, caused plaintiff's injuries.
trial was held in May, 2017 and the jury found that 1)
defendant was negligent in designing, manufacturing or
failing to provide adequate warnings or instructions for the
subject lawn mower but that such negligence was not a
substantial cause of the accident and 2) that defendant
breached the implied warranty of merchantability by selling
the subject lawn mower but again that such a breach was not a
substantial cause of the accident. Accordingly, the jury
awarded no damages to the plaintiff.
has since filed two post-trial motions which are pending
before the Court: a motion for judgment on his M.G.L. c. 93A
claims (“93A claims”) and a motion for judgment
as a matter of law on the negligence and breach of warranty
claims submitted to the jury or, in the alternative, for a
new trial. For the following reasons, both motions will be
Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law,
or, in the Alternative, for a New Trial
requests that the Court vacate the jury verdict in favor of
defendant on the causation issues for both the negligence and
breach of warranty claims and enter judgment in his favor or,
in the alternative, to conduct a new trial.
as a matter of law overturning a jury verdict is warranted
only if there was insufficient evidence at trial for a
reasonable jury to find in favor of the non-moving party.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 50. The court must examine the evidence of
record, draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
prevailing party and determine whether there is a sufficient
evidentiary basis for the verdict. Zimmerman
v. Direct Fed. Credit Union, 262 F.3d 70,
75 (1st Cir. 2001). The court may not assess witness
credibility, resolve conflicts in testimony or weigh the
evidence. Barkan v. Dunkin' Donuts, Inc., 627
F.3d 34, 39 (1st Cir. 2010). Although a non-moving party with
the burden of proof at trial must present more than a
“mere scintilla” of evidence and cannot rely on
conjecture or speculation, see id., the court must
not disturb a jury verdict unless the evidence, viewed in the
light most favorable to the prevailing party, “points
unerringly to an opposite conclusion.”
Zimmerman, 262 F.3d at 75.
alternative, a court has the discretion to order a new trial
when the jury verdict is against the clear weight of the
evidence, is based upon false evidence or would result in a
clear miscarriage of justice. Mayo v.
Schooner Capital Corp., 825 F.2d 566, 570 (1st Cir.
1987). Although the authority of a court to order a new trial
is “broad”, the First Circuit has
“often” emphasized that
a district judge cannot displace a jury's verdict merely
because he disagrees with it or because a contrary verdict
may have been equally . . . supportable.
Jennings v. Jones, 587 F.3d 430,
436 (1st Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks omitted).
moving party seeks a new trial on the basis of an allegedly
improper jury instruction, the court can set aside the
verdict if it finds that the instruction is 1)
“misleading, unduly complicating, or incorrect as a
matter of law” and 2) is not harmless.
Davignon v. Clemmey, 322 F.3d 1, 9
(1st Cir. 2003) (quoting Romano v. U-Haul
Int'l, 233 F.3d 655, 665 (1st Cir. 2000). In doing
so, the court must keep in mind that it need only give jury
instructions that, taken as a whole, “advert to the
critical issues” and set forth the general legal
framework applicable to those issues. Zimmerman, 262
F.3d at 80.