The opinion of the court was delivered by: Renee Marie Bumb United States District Judge
Defendants Sherry R. LaChica ("LaChica") and John Yohn ("Yohn") (collectively, the "Defendants") have moved for judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50(b). For the reasons that follow, that motion is DENIED.
Plaintiff Randolph Bethune (the "Plaintiff") was an inmate
incarcerated at Cape May County Correctional Center as a pre-trial detainee. Plaintiff claims that the Defendants, corrections officers in the facility, and other corrections officers violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights by using excessive force against him.
Specifically, Plaintiff claims that, while he was being escorted from the medical department, LaChica pushed him with her left hand to prod him forward. Plaintiff then turned to look at LaChica. LaChica then grabbed Plaintiff's arm and pushed his body and face toward a concrete wall. A Code Blue emergency was called with Yohn and other officers coming to assist LaChica. These officers, according to Plaintiff, threw Plaintiff to the floor and beat and kicked him even though he was not resisting at the time. LaChica did not participate in the "takedown" of Plaintiff by these officers and LaChica's direct involvement in the episode ends there.
Plaintiff was then picked up by the officers, including Yohn, and carried to be placed in a restraint chair. Plaintiff claims that the method in which he was carried constituted excessive force. In particular, Plaintiff claims that Yohn struck Plaintiff's face with his knee several times while carrying Plaintiff. Plaintiff also claims that, before being placed in the restraint chair, he was placed on the ground and beaten again by officers including Yohn. Plaintiff also claims that the officers, including Yohn, made the restraints in the restraint too tight and that this too constituted excessive force.
Plaintiff asserted claims based on this sequence of events, most of which was captured on videotape, against the Defendants and two additional corrections officers - Joseph Tallerico ("Tallerico") and Charles Magill ("Magill"). The Defendants vigorously dispute Plaintiff's account; they claim that they never struck Plaintiff and that the force that was used was appropriate under the circumstances. After a trial, the jury returned a verdict of no cause against Tallerico and Magill and hung with respect to the Defendants.
A motion for judgment as a matter of law under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 50(b) is granted only sparingly. It "should be granted only if, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant and giving it the advantage of every fair and reasonable inference, there is insufficient evidence from which a jury reasonably could find liability." S.E.C. v. Teo, No. 2:04-cv-01815, 2011 WL 4074085, at *9 (D.N.J. Sep. 12, 2011)(citing and quoting Lightning Lube, Inc. v. Witco Corp., 4. F3d 1153, 1166 (3d Cir. 1993). In making this determination, the Court may not weigh evidence, determine credibility, or substitute its version of the facts for the jury's version.
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