United States District Court, D. Maryland
RICHARD D. BENNETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Randolph Bertrand (''Plaintiff or
"Bertrand") filed suit against his former employer,
the Town of Elkton ("Defendant" or "the
Town") and Police Chief Matthew Donnelly in his
individual and official capacities (collectively, the
"Defendants"), alleging that Defendants had
discriminated against him in violation of the Americans with
Disabilities Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et
seq. ("ADA") and the Age Discrimination in
Employment Act, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 621, et
seq. ("ADEA"). Ultimately, by agreement of
counsel and Order of this Court, two Counts were submitted to
the jury as to one Defendant, the Town of Elkton: Count I,
which alleged that the Town failed to provide Bertrand a
reasonable accommodation and Count II, which alleged that
Defendant discriminated against Bertrand due to his
disability by terminating his employment. On May 29, 2019,
the jury returned a verdict in the Town's favor on both
pending is Plaintiffs Motion to Alter and Amend the Judgment,
and for Directed Plaintiffs Verdict, on Count I. (ECF No.
106.) The parties' submissions have been reviewed and no
hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.
2018). Plaintiff has withdrawn his motion for a directed
verdict and now seeks a new trial as to Count I under Rule 59
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff has failed
to present adequate grounds for a new trial. Accordingly,
Plaintiffs Motion (ECF No. 106) is DENIED.
case arises from Plaintiff Randolph Bertrand's allegation
that the Town of Elkton unlawfully terminated his employment
as a police officer in January 2014. In his Amended
Complaint, Bertrand alleged that he had served as a police
officer for the Town of Elkton between 1989 and January 2014.
(Id. at ¶ 2.) During his employment, Bertrand
experienced complications stemming from a workplace accident
which occurred at some point in 2000. (Id. at
¶¶ 29-31.) In August 2013, he applied for and
received medical leave under the Family Medical Leave Act
("FMLA") to obtain medical care related to his back
problem. (Id. at ¶ 31.) Bertrand alleged that
he was unable to return to work until about six months later,
between February 3 and February 11, 2014. (Id. at
¶ 36.) While on leave, Bertrand allegedly requested the
opportunity to perform light duty work assignments or to work
in a vacant position in the "records room" as an
accommodation for his disability. (Id. at
¶¶ 34, 148.) The Town allegedly denied these
requests. (Id. at ¶ 34.) Instead, the Town
continued to provide Bertrand leave beyond the 12-week period
mandated by the FMLA,  which would have expired in November 2013.
During this period, Bertrand obtain long term disability
benefits. (Id. at ¶ 43.) On January 22, 2014,
the Town terminated Bertrand's employment. (Id.
at ¶ 41.) Following his employment termination, the Town
offered to consider Bertrand's application for
reemployment on the condition that he pass a physical and a
"Fitness for Duty" exam. (Id. at
¶¶ 53-55.) It was alleged that the Town refused to
reemploy Bertrand even though he passed these exams.
(Id. at ¶¶ 54-56.) In April 2014, the Town
allegedly notified Bertrand that he could apply as a new
hire, which would require him to undergo extensive testing,
including a polygraph test and background investigation, and
to attend the police academy. (Id. at ¶ 58-59.)
7, 2014, Bertrand filed a Charge of Discrimination with the
Equal Opportunity Employment Commission ("EEOC").
(Id. at ¶ 81.) Bertrand subsequently amended
the Charge on December 14, 2014. (Id.) In his EEOC
filings, Bertrand alleged that he was discriminated against
in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the
Age Discrimination in Employment Act. (EEOC Determination,
ECF No. 1-2.) On December 8, 2016, the EEOC issued a
Determination indicating that there was reasonable cause to
believe that the Town discriminated against Bertrand in
violation of the ADA,  but made no finding with respect to his
ADEA claims. (ECF No. 1-2 at 3.) Subsequently, on August 22,
2017, the EEOC issued Bertrand a Right to Sue Notice. (Am.
Compl. ¶ 82.) On November 20, 2017, Bertrand filed suit
against the Town of Elkton and Police Chief Matthew Donnelly
within 90-days of his receipt of the notice. (Compl., ECF No.
1.) An Amended Complaint followed on November 7, 2018.
(Letter Order, ECF No. 24; Am. Compl, ECF No. 25.)
Amended Complaint brought five counts, alleging violations of
the ADA and the ADEA. In Count I, Bertrand alleged that
Defendants violated the ADA by refusing to provide him
reasonable accommodations in the form of "light duty
and/or reassignment to a vacant position during December 2013
and January 2014." (Am. Compl. ¶ 102.) In Count II,
Bertrand alleged that Defendants discriminated against him in
violation of the ADA by, inter alia, terminating his
employment in January 2014. (Id. at ¶ 122.)
Count III brought an ADEA claim based on substantially the
same allegations articulated in Counts I and II,
i.e., that Bertrand had been denied light duty,
reassignment to a vacant position, and reinstatement, but
added that younger employees were provided these benefits.
(Id. at ¶¶ 132-142.) Count IV, styled as a
"Medical Inquiry Claim," alleged that the physical
examinations which Bertrand was required to pass as a
condition for reinstatement violated the ADA. (Id.
at ¶¶ 143-146.) Finally, Count V, an
"Interactive Process Claim," alleged that Defendant
Donnelly violated the ADA by failing to engage in an
interactive process with Bertrand after he allegedly
requested accommodations in the form of light duty or
reassignment to a vacant position within the records room.
(Id. at ¶ 148.)
case was trimmed before its submission to the jury. On
February 22, 2019, this Court granted Plaintiffs Motion to
Dismiss Defendant Donnelly. (ECF No. 43.) On May 2, 2019,
following a motions hearing concerning cross-motions for
summary judgment (ECF Nos. 35, 48), this Court entered
Judgment in favor of Defendants on Count III, Bertrand's
ADEA claim. (ECF No. 64.) On May 15, 2019, this Court
dismissed Plaintiffs "Interactive Process Claim" by
consent of all parties. Finally, on the fourth day of trial,
May 23, 2019, Plaintiff moved to withdraw his "Medical
Inquiry Claim" asserted in Count IV. Ultimately, only
two claims were submitted to the jury (Counts I and II)
against one Defendant (the Town of Elkton).
29, 2019, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Defendant
on both Counts. On June 24, 2019, Plaintiff filed a
"Motion to Alter and Amend the Judgment, and for
Directed Plaintiffs Verdict, on Count I." (ECF No. 106.)
Subsequently, Plaintiff withdrew his request for a directed
verdict. (ECF No. 107.) He now seeks only a new trial on
Count I pursuant to Rule 59 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. (ECF No. 109 at 7.) The Town opposes the Motion.
(ECF No. 108.)
moves for a new trial under Rule 59 of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. A litigant may seek relief from a jury
verdict or judgment under Rule 59. The Rule presents "an
extraordinary remedy which should be used sparingly."
Pacific Ins. Co. v. American Nat. Fin Ins. Co., 148
F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir. 1998). Plaintiff repeatedly invokes
Rule 59(e) and couches his arguments under that Rule. (ECF
No. 106 at 1, 2, 14.) Motions for a new trial following a
jury verdict are governed by Rule 59(a)(1)(A). Butler v.
Windsor, 143 F.Supp.3d 332, 335 (D. Md. Oct. 22, 2015).
Accordingly, this Court will construe Plaintiffs Motion as
seeking a new trial under Rule 59(a)(1)(A) to the extent that
Plaintiff seeks a new trial. See Jackson v. Egira,
LLC, RDB-14-3114, 2016 WL 6583604, at *1 (D. Md. Nov. 4,
2016) (construing Motion to Reconsider as a motion under Rule
59(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure insofar as it
sought a new trial).
Rule 59(a)(1)(A), a court may grant a new trial on all or
some issues "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. The U.S. Court of Appeals for
the Fourth Circuit has held that a court "must set aside
the verdict and grant a new trial if... (1) the verdict is
against the clear weight of the evidence, or (2) is based
upon evidence which is false, or (3) will result in a
miscarriage of justice, even though there may be substantial
evidence which would prevent the direction of a
verdict." Knussman v. Maryland, 272 F.3d 625,
639 (4th Cir. 2001) (citation omitted).
seeks a new trial as to Count I of the Amended Complaint.
(ECF No. 109 at 1, 7.) He argues that a new trial should be
granted as to Count I because the evidence did not support
the jury's verdict on that Count. Plaintiffs Motion also
seems to suggest that a "miscarriage of justice"
has occurred, as it expresses disagreement with various
"erroneous legal arguments," purportedly advanced
by the Defendant and makes repeated reference to
"manifest injustice," a similar standard applicable
under Rule 59(e). (ECF No. 106 at 1, 10, 13, 14.) Throughout
his Motion, Bertrand repeatedly insists that the Town
presented "no evidence" in support of its defense
and from which the jury could find in its favor on Count I.
(ECF No. 106 at 3, 4, 14.) His Motion opens by contending
that judgment should have been entered in his favor on Count
I and that this Court committed legal errors or permitted
Defendant to introduce irrelevant evidence. (Id. at
4-9.) The remainder of Plaintiff s Motion takes issue with
several "erroneous legal arguments" presented by
the Defendant. All of these contentions are meritless. At
trial, the jury was tasked with resolving a number of factual
issues, including those related to whether Plaintiff ...