United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Central Division
NANETTE K. LAUGHREY United States District Judge
reasons set forth below, the motion by defendants R.E.D.
Investments, LLC and Bobby Van Stavern for a new trial or for
remittitur or merger is denied.
case involves a purchase agreement between plaintiff Landmark
Infrastructure Holding Company LLC and R.E.D. The agreement
provided that Landmark would pay R.E.D. $902, 358.11 in
exchange for the right to receive base rents under a
billboard lease and a 99-year easement over a portion of
R.E.D.'s real property.
4 of the Purchase Agreement contained a “Representation
and Covenant” that “[R.E.D.] has not received
notice of a rent reduction by the billboard tenant under the
Billboard lease or notice of any fact, condition or
circumstance that would result in a rent reduction.”
However, the evidence showed that, at the time the Purchase
Agreement was executed, R.E.D. and Van Stavern knew or had
reason to know that the billboard tenant under the lease,
Lamar Advertising, had requested or would be requesting a
case was tried before a jury beginning January 16, 2018.
Three claims were submitted to the jury: fraudulent
misrepresentation and negligent misrepresentation claims
against both defendants, and a breach of contract claim
January 18, 2018, the jury returned a verdict in
Landmark's favor on the negligent misrepresentation claim
and assessed damages in Landmark's favor against both
Defendants in the amount of $381, 234.11. The jury also
returned a verdict in Landmark's favor on the breach of
contract claim and assessed damages in Landmark's favor
against R.E.D. in the amount of $156, 000.00.
Jury was instructed on each of these claims in separate
packages. The damage instruction for the negligent
representation claim and the contract claim were nearly
identical. They instructed the jury to award “such sum
as you believe will fairly and justly compensate Plaintiff
for any damages you believe Plaintiff sustained as a direct
result of the Defendants' [conduct].” Doc. 189,
Jury Instruction Nos. 20 and 23.
now move for a new trial or alternatively for remittitur or
merger of the damage awards. Doc. 200. Defendants first argue
that the Court erred in its evidentiary rulings and this
resulted in manifest injustice. Defendants also argue that
the damages awarded by the jury are excessive and against the
clear weight of the evidence. A//s an alternative to a new
trial, Defendants seek either remittitur or merger on the
premise that $381, 234.11 is the maximum damages to which
Landmark is entitled. In other words, the $156, 000 awarded
for the breach of contract must be either remitted or merged
with the $381, 234.11 award.
Motion for New Trial
Rule 59(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court
may grant a motion for a new trial “on all or some of
the issues.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(a)(1). A new trial may be
granted when the first trial resulted in a miscarriage of
justice, the verdict was against the weight of the evidence,
the damages award was excessive, or there were legal errors
at trial. Gray v. Bucknell, 86 F.3d 1472, 1480 (8th
Cir. 1996). The Court should grant a new trial where
erroneous evidentiary rulings “had a substantial
influence on the jury's verdict.” Littleton v.
McNeely, 562 F.3d 880, 888 (8th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Harris v. Chand, 506 F.3d 1135, 1139 (8th Cir.
2007)). Furthermore, only if the jury's verdict is so
against the great weight of the evidence that it constitutes
a miscarriage of justice should a motion for a new trial be
granted. Ogden v. Wax Works, Inc., 214 F.3d 999,
1010 (8th Cir. 2000).
object to a number of the Court's pretrial evidentiary
rulings. In their initial briefing, Defendants made
conclusory statements about these rulings and presented no
new facts or arguments. After Landmark had responded,
Defendants substantially expanded their argument to discuss
evidence presented at trial and an offer of proof. But at the
time of its pretrial rulings, the Court was well aware of the
Defendants' desire to have Mr. Moyers testify that the
lease should have been shopped and their position that
Landmark had failed to mitigate its damages. The Court's
decision was not changed by the offer of proof that was
submitted after the Court made its ruling. Further, the jury
was aware that the Purchase Agreement gave Landmark the right
to a 99-year easement in addition to the rents from the lease
it purchased from the Defendants. The Court is unconvinced
that it erred in its legal ruling and therefore finds no
manifest injustice to correct.
also suggest that the jury verdict was not supported by the
evidence because the Purchase Agreement permitted the lessee,
Lamar Advertising, to terminate the lease for any reason with
ninety days' notice. Defendants conclude that Landmark
therefore assumed the risk of termination and their damages
were not caused by the Defendants' misrepresentation. But
the evidence showed that Landmark would not have entered into
the lease had they known Lamar Advertising intended to
request a rent reduction. Thus, there was evidence to support
Landmark's theory that it was induced to enter into the
agreement by the ...