United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi, Greenville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
JUDGMENT NOTWITHSTANDING THE VERDICT OR FOR A NEW
before the Court is a motion for judgment notwithstanding the
verdict or for a new trial  filed by Plaintiff Nakenya
Cartwright ("Plaintiff). Defendant State Farm Mutual
Automobile Insurance Company ("State
Farm") has filed a response in opposition.
Plaintiff has not filed a reply, and the time for doing so
has now passed. The matter is ripe for review. The Court has
carefully considered Plaintiffs arguments concerning her
motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or for a new
trial, as well as attached documentation, the trial
transcript, the trial exhibits, and all authorities bearing
on the matter. The Court is of the opinion that none of
Plaintiffs arguments have merit and that the jury verdict
should stand, for the reasons stated below.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59 Standard
50(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides in
pertinent part: "[N]o later than 28 days after the jury
was discharged[, ] the movant may file a renewed motion for
judgment as a matter of law and may include an alternative or
joint request for a new trial under Rule 59."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b). Rule 59 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure provides in pertinent part that "[t]he court
may, on motion, grant a new trial on all or some of the
issues-and to any party- . ., after a jury 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). Such a motion "must be filed no later than
28 days after the entry of judgment." Fed.R.Civ.P.
59(b). Because the instant motion for a new trial was filed
within 28 days of the entry of judgment, it shall be
construed as a Rule 59 motion. See, e.g., Komolafe v.
Dewease, 87 F, App'x 385, 2004 WL 304198, at *1 (5th
Cir. 2004) (per curiam) (citing Teal v. Eagle Fleet,
Inc., 933 F.2d 341, 347 n.3 (5th Cir, 1991)
(post-judgment motion for new trial and/or for relief from
judgment was properly considered under Rule 59 because it was
filed within the requisite Rule 59 time period)).
district court has discretion to grant a new trial under Rule
59(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure when it is
necessary to do so 'to prevent an injustice.' "
Jones v. Ruiz, 478 F.App'x 834, 835 (5th Cir.
2012) (per curiam) (quoting United States v. Flores,
981 F.2d 231, 237 (5th Cir. 1993)). Although Rule 59(a) does
not state appropriate grounds for a new trial, "[a] new
trial may be appropriate if the verdict is against the weight
of the evidence, the amount awarded is excessive, or the
trial was unfair or marred by prejudicial error."
Scott v. Monsanto Co., 868 F.2d 786, 789 (5th Cir.
1989) (internal citation omitted). "Courts do not grant
new trials unless it is reasonably clear that prejudicial
error has crept into the record or that substantial justice
has not been done, and the burden of showing harmful error
rests on the party seeking the new trial." Sibley v.
Lemaire, 184 F.3d 481, 487 (5th Cir. 1999).
Analysis and Discussion
filed this action against State Farm to recover damages
allegedly caused by State Farm's failure to pay uninsured
motorist benefits following an automobile accident. The
accident occurred in an automobile driven by Valerie Sproull
in which Plaintiff was the passenger. Pretrial Order 
¶¶ 4, 8(a), 9(a)(3). Plaintiff claimed that she
suffered physical and emotional damages due to Ms.
Sproull's alleged failure to exercise control of her
vehicle, her excessive speed, and her failure to keep a
proper lookout, as well as other alleged acts of negligence.
Id. ¶ 8(a). State Farm's position was that
the accident was unavoidable and that Ms. Sproull was not
negligent in her response to the deer, which State Farm
maintains suddenly entered the roadway from the grass median
and struck Ms. Sproull's driver's side front of her
automobile. Id. ¶ 8(b).
case proceeded to trial on June 19, 2017. The parties agreed
that uninsured motorist benefits would be available to
Plaintiff if the jury found that (1) Ms, Sproull was
negligent in contributing to the accident and (2) the damages
exceeded the $25, 000.00 in liability benefits previously
tendered to Plaintiff, subject to the available limits of
uninsured motorist coverage totaling $25, 000.00.
Id. ¶ 9(a)(4). On June 20, 2017, the jury
returned a verdict in favor of State Farm, and the Court
subsequently entered judgment in favor of State Farm.
See Jury Verdict ; Clerk's J. .
29, 2017, Plaintiff filed the present motion for judgment
notwithstanding the verdict or for a new trial , wherein
she argues that the evidence at trial did not support the
Plaintiff argues that "[d]uring the trial, the driver
[Ms.] Sproull of the vehicle in which [Plaintiff] was a
passenger admitted to speeding at the time of the
accident" and further argues that "[Plaintiff]
proved her damages were caused by such negligence per
se" Pl.'s Mot. J. Notwithstanding Verdict or
for New Trial  at 1 (emphasis in original). Second,
Plaintiff argues that "[Ms. Sproull] clearly admitted
she failed to keep a proper lookout and did not see the
obvious hazard of a deer approaching the roadway from the
left in the unblocked median, which is an obvious legal
assumption that the roadway is clear, which is another
admission of negligence per se" Id. Plaintiff
maintains that "[n]o reasonable jury could find that
traveling at a high rate of speed in excess of the
posted speed limit and admitted failure to keep a proper
lookout by assumption that the roadway is clear did not
cause or contribute to striking a deer on the roadway."
Id. at 2 (emphasis in original). Plaintiff thus
argues that the weight of the evidence favored judgment for
Plaintiff and not State Farm.
Farm argues in response that the jury verdict was supported
by substantial evidence and that Plaintiffs proof concerning
liability was disputed by her own words. State Farm points to
evidence in the record, including Plaintiffs recorded
statement and transcript introduced into evidence that was
taken approximately 1 week after the accident. In that
statement, Plaintiff stated that Ms. Sproull could have done
nothing to prevent hitting the deer; her specific words were
that the deer "[leapt] out of nowhere" and
"just ran into us" and that Ms. Sproull "did a
damn good job" during the accident. See D-l at
3, 6-7. State Farm further points to Ms. Sproulls testimony
at trial that she was paying attention at the time of the
accident, but the deer came out of nowhere and struck her
vehicle. State Farm also cites Ms. Sproull's trial
testimony that she "could have been driving" from
65 to 68 miles per hour. State Farm further points to the
fact that Plaintiff did not move for a directed verdict on
the issue of negligence per se and correctly
reiterates the law that a finding of negligence per
se is not equivalent to a finding of liability for
negligence. State Farm also argues that evidence at trial
disputed Plaintiffs claims of injury, including evidence that
Plaintiffs diagnosis of a torn rotator cuff was not given
until 1 year and 4 months after the accident and evidence
that Plaintiff was diagnosed with chronic pain condition
fibromyalgia approximately 2 months prior to the accident.
State Farm further points to State Farm's dispute of
Plaintiff s medical expenses as related to the subject
accident. Finally, III. Conclusion
of the foregoing reasons, the Court finds that the jury
verdict in favor of Defendant State Farm and against
Plaintiff Nakenya Cartwright should stand. "[M]ere
dissatisfaction with the jury's weighing of evidence or
determination of witness credibility is not a valid ground on
which to grant judgment as a matter of law [or] a new trial.
. ., " Bovie-Clark v. Sentry Select Ins, Co.,
568 F.App'x 312, 313 (5th Cir, 2014) (per curiam).
Therefore, Plaintiff Nakenkya Cartwright's motion for
judgment notwithstanding the verdict or for a new trial 
order in accordance with this opinion shall issue this 4ay.