August 7, 2023 |

Kibler Fowler & Cave LLP Wins Judgment as a Matter of Law Following Jury Trial

On June 7, 2023, the Honorable Otis D. Wright, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California granted a post-trial Rule 50(b) motion for judgment as a matter of law filed by Kibler Fowler & Cave LLP on behalf of our client—a large housing provider—and then the next day the Court entered final judgment in our client’s favor. The plaintiff in the case resided in a large housing complex owned by our client and sought in excess of $3.5 million for claims of disability discrimination under the Fair Housing Act and the California Disabled Persons Act. After the Court denied our client’s pre-trial motion for summary judgment, it retained KF&C to try the case just two weeks before jury selection. The KF&C trial team of Managing Partner Mike Kibler, Partner Matt Cave, Senior Associate Kevin Kroll, Associate Sara Borjigin, and Senior Litigation Paralegal Samantha Ahlheim quickly got up to speed, readying the case for trial on an expedited schedule and winning several key evidentiary motions before jury selection.

Following a one-week trial, the jury awarded Plaintiff modest damages—reducing our client’s exposure by more than 90%—but in trying the case the KF&C trial team exposed several fatal legal and evidentiary infirmities in Plaintiff’s claims. Post-trial, KF&C moved for judgment as a matter of law, a new trial or remittitur, on the grounds that no reasonable jury could have reached even the modest verdict that the jury did based on the evidence, or lack of evidence, presented at trial. The Court agreed, granting our Rule 50 motion for judgment as a matter of law, holding “an award of $250,000 in emotional distress damages, absent any evidence supporting causation or harm, is a miscarriage of justice, in that the award can only be based on speculation, error, and disregard of the Court’s instructions,” and vacating the entire damages award. On the following day, June 8, the Court entered final judgment in our client’s favor.

This federal jury trial was among the four cases—two jury trials, one bench trial and an arbitration—that KF&C successfully has taken to final verdict, decision or arbitration award (so far) in calendar year 2023.

 The Court’s order and final defense judgment can be found here.

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