Regarding the Ledgerwood accident evidence, while information about a repaying site fatality is certainly disturbing, IR cannot argue to exclude it solely because it is disturbing. The accident happened before Ms. Rogers' lost a limb to the same machine, and arguably put IR on notice of potential dangers to those who work with its milling machines, even if IR had not had such notice previously.
Joy v. Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc., 303 U.S. App. D.C. 1, 999 F.2d 549 (D.C. Cir. 1993), states that evidence of reasonably similar incidents is admissible at trial. In Ms. Rogers' case, the Ledgerwood incident (prior to Ms. Rogers' injury) was cited to show that IR was on notice that the milling machine as designed and manufactured had caused the ultimate injury: a fatality. The Court sharply limited reference to the Alexander and Madden incidents -- injuries that occurred shortly after Ms. Rogers'. Those two incidents were part of an illustration drawn by IR's own Frank Martinelli and discussed at a meeting IR held in 1994, ostensibly to address milling machine injuries and safety devices the company could use to prevent them or reduce their likelihood. The drawing was received into evidence, and Mr. Martinelli and others from IR testified about both the drawing and the meeting. No details or evidence of Mr. Alexander's or Mr. Madden's injuries were given at trial. Under Rule 403's balancing test, the probative value to the jury -- allowing it to make sense of the subject of the 1994 meeting and what the company was taking into its consideration -- outweighed whatever minimal prejudice IR feels may have been generated by the jury hearing that two more individuals were harmed by the milling machine.
Also, IR's representation that evidence of the Smith injury was put before the jury is wrong. Nothing identifying Mr. Smith, or the fact that he, too, sustained a milling machine injury, was heard by the jury. A tape prepared by an expert for Mr. Smith's trial was identified by an IR employee, but the line of questioning was quickly dropped when the Court sustained IR's objection for lack of foundation.
Standard: Motion for a New Trial
Rule 59(a), Fed.R.Civ.P.., provides in part that: [a] new trial may be granted to all or any of the parties and on all or part of the issues in an action in which there has been a trial by jury, for any of the reasons for which new trials have heretofore been granted at law in the courts of the United States. The disposition of such a motion is a matter entrusted to the sound discretion of the trial court. Grogan v. General Maintenance Service Co., 246 U.S. App. D.C. 154, 763 F.2d 444, 448 (D.C.Cir. 1985), citing Allied Chemical Corp. v. Daiflon, Inc., 449 U.S. 33, 36, 66 L. Ed. 2d 193, 101 S. Ct. 188 (1980); Taylor v. Washington Terminal Co., 133 U.S. App. D.C. 110, 409 F.2d 145, 148 (D.C.Cir.), cert. denied, 396 U.S. 835, 24 L. Ed. 2d 85, 90 S. Ct. 93 (1969).
The Court finds that the jury reasonably credited the testimony and evidence as presented, and that the testimony and evidence were sufficient to sustain a verdict for Ms. Rogers and against IR as to liability for her claims of strict liability and/or negligence. The Court also finds that the jury could reasonably credit the testimony and evidence to find sufficient reckless disregard for human safety on the part of IR for a proper award of punitive damages. The Court, therefore, will not usurp the province of the jury, and denies IR's renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law, or for a new trial.
For the above-stated reasons, the Court finds the jury acted within its province in reaching a verdict awarding Plaintiff Cosandra Rogers $ 10,200,000.00 in compensatory damages and $ 6,500,000.00, and affirms the jury's award and the judgment entered against IR. An appropriate order is attached.
JUNE L. GREEN
United States District Court Judge
Date: July 15, 1997
This matter is before the Court on Ingersoll-Rand's Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law or, in the Alternative, Motion for a New Trial, and Cosandra Rogers' opposition thereto. Upon consideration of the motions of the parties, the record of the case, and for the reasons set out in the attached Memorandum, it is by the Court this 15th day of July, 1997,
ORDERED that the Defendant's Motion is DENIED ; and it is further
ORDERED that judgment for the Plaintiff is REAFFIRMED ; and it is further
ORDERED that Ms. Rogers' July 3, 1997, Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Points and Authorities is DENIED as moot; and it is further
ORDERED that the Clerk shall mail copies of this Memorandum and Order to:
Charles C. Parsons, Esq.
126 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
Terrence M.R. Zic, Esq.
5335 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20015-2030
William H. Robinson, Jr., Esq.
411 East Franklin Street
Richmond, VA 23219
JUNE L. GREEN
United States District Court Judge