Friday, December 27, 2013

Coleman v. Frierson case brief

Coleman v. Frierson case brief summary
607 F.Supp. 1566 (1985)

Defendants, city, former mayor, and police chief, filed motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict under Fed. R. Civ. P. 50 or for a new trial under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59 on the court's default judgment in favor of plaintiff former employer. The former mayor and former police chief also filed a motion to vacate the default judgment, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(6).

The former employee was a veteran police officer who uncovered corruption in the police department and revealed the former mayor's involvement in the alleged wrongdoing. After he was terminated from his job, the former employee filed a claim against the city, former mayor, and former police chief alleging constitutional violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C.S. § 1983. The court entered a default judgment against defendants on liability because they repeatedly failed to meet the requisite obligations to carry the litigation forward. Following a trial on the issue of damages, the jury returned a verdict against defendants for compensatory and punitive damages, lost wages, medical, and legal expenses. Defendants then sought a judgment notwithstanding the verdict and a new trial. The former mayor and police chief asked the court to vacate the liability phase of the default judgment.

  • The court denied all defendants' motions and held that: 
  • (1) defendants had not been diligent or conscientious clients to justify the extraordinary case relief available under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(6); and 
  • (2) defendants' argument for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and for new trial were not timely raised.
The court denied defendants' motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, new trial, and to vacate the default judgment in favor of the former employee.

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