United States District Court, D. Nevada
before the court is defendant Joseph Parra's
(“Officer Parra”) renewed motion for judgment as
a matter of law. (ECF No. 93). Plaintiffs Angel Landeros
(“Landeros”) and Amelia Villalba (collectively,
“plaintiffs”) filed a response (ECF No. 97), to
which defendant replied (ECF No. 100).
before the court is defendant Las Vegas Metropolitan Police
Department's (“LVMPD”) motion for remittitur.
(ECF No. 94). No. response has been filed, and the time to do
so has passed.
before the court is plaintiffs' motion for attorneys'
fees and costs. (ECF No. 96). LVMPD filed a response (ECF No.
99), to which plaintiffs replied. (ECF No. 101).
factual and procedural history of this case is generally
undisputed. See (ECF No. 39). On February 8, 2013,
LVMPD Officers Parra, Clyde Villanueva, and Scott Thomas
(collectively, “the officers”) were attempting to
execute the arrest of violent criminal Roberto Torres, a
non-party to this action, who was wanted for shooting his
girlfriend in the head. (ECF No. 93 at 3). In attempting to
execute Torres' arrest, the officers had been surveilling
his whereabouts all day from their vehicles, which they had
parked just outside his apartment complex. (ECF No. 97 at 2).
the officers observed Torres exit his apartment to join
plaintiffs on the street. Id. Plaintiffs were
meeting with Torres to attempt to sell him their car, which
they had posted for sale online. Id. Plaintiffs did
not know that Torres was a violent criminal with an active
felony arrest warrant. Id.
officers were instructed to contact LMVPD's “Repeat
Offender Team” (“ROP”) upon locating Torres
so that ROP could effectuate Torres' arrest. Id.
However, when the officers observed Torres about to enter the
car with plaintiffs, they made the hurried decision to arrest
Torres immediately and without the assistance of ROP.
Id. at 2-3.
Parra and Villanueva, who were wearing identifiable LVMPD
kevlar vests on top of their plain clothes, exited their
vehicles with guns drawn and issued verbal commands for all
three individuals to get on the ground. (ECF No. 93 at 3).
Officer Thomas remained under cover down the street.
Id. At some point during this interaction, while
plaintiffs were in the process of complying with Officers
Parra and Villanueva's verbal commands, Torres produced a
firearm. (ECF No. 97 at 3).
the parties dispute whether Torres or Officer Parra opened
fire first, it is undisputed that Torres was able to
discharge at least one round from his firearm and that
“[a]lmost simultaneously, ” Officer Parra shot at
Torres. Id. Unfortunately, Officer Parra's shot
missed Torres and struck plaintiff Landeros, causing him
severe injury to his arm, torso, and spine. Id.
hearing and seeing the exchange of gunshots, Officer Thomas
broke cover from down the street and fired six shots at
Torres, killing him. Id. However, one of Officer
Thomas' gunshots ricocheted and grazed Villalba's
ankle, causing her minor injury. Id.
initiated the instant suit on September 18, 2014, against the
officers and LVMPD for damages to compensate them for their
injuries. (ECF No. 1). The complaint asserted various federal
law claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, as well as
state law claims for assault, battery, and negligence.
to trial, LVMPD and the officers made an offer of judgment to
plaintiffs in the amount of $100, 000, with each party to
bear its own attorneys fees and costs, in exchange for full
and complete satisfaction of all claims. (ECF No. 96-1).
Plaintiffs rejected the offer and proceeded to trial.
commenced on January 28, 2019. (ECF No. 81). At the close of
evidence and during closing arguments, plaintiffs withdrew
the following claims: (1) Landeros' Fourth Amendment
excessive force claim against Officers Parra and Villanueva;
(2) Landeros' state-law assault and battery claims; and
(3) Villalba's state-law assault and battery claim. (ECF
No. 93 at 4). Accordingly, the only claims submitted to the
jury were Landeros' Fourteenth Amendment due process
claim, Landeros' state law negligence claim, and
Villalba's state law negligence claim. Id.
closing arguments, defendants made their first oral motion
for judgment as a matter of law, which the court denied.
Thereafter, following several hours of deliberation, the jury
returned a verdict which found for defendants on all claims
except Landeros' state-law negligence claim against
Officer Parra and awarded Landeros $225, 000 in damages. (ECF
Nos. 90, 92).
the parties filed the instant motions for judgment as a
matter of law, remittitur, and attorney's fees and costs.
Rule 50(b), after the court enters judgment, a party may file
a renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 50. Rule 50 provides that
judgment as a matter of law is appropriate if “a
reasonable jury would not have a legally sufficient
evidentiary basis to find for the party on that issue.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a)(1). Under Rule 50, the court reviews
whether “substantial evidence” supports the jury
verdict. See Hagen v. City of Eugene, 736 F.3d 1251,
1256 (9th Cir. 2013).
verdict is not supported by substantial evidence “when
the evidence, construed in the light most favorable to the
nonmoving party, permits only one reasonable conclusion,
which is contrary to the jury's verdict.”
Id. In other words, Rule 50 “allows the trial
court to remove cases or issues from the jury's
consideration when the facts are sufficiently clear that the
law requires a particular result.” Weisgram v.
Marley Co., 528 U.S. 440, 448 (2000).