United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville
AMERICAN WATER HEATER CO. and A.O. SMITH CORP., Plaintiffs,
THE TAYLOR WINFIELD CORP., d/b/a TAYLOR-WINFIELD TECHNOLOGIES, Defendant.
Magistrate Judge Lee
L. COLLIER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
have filed a motion for a new trial. (Doc. 173.) Defendant
has responded in opposition (Doc. 176) and the time for
filing a reply has expired. See E.D. Tenn. L.R.
7.1(a). For the reasons set out below, the Court will
DENY Plaintiffs' motion.
case arose as a result of a contractual dispute concerning
two custom-designed welding machines, or welders, Defendant
was hired to build for Plaintiffs. On May 12, 2016,
Plaintiffs filed suit against Defendant alleging breach of
contract for failure to deliver the welders on time. (Doc.
1.) A jury trial was held from September 9 through September
16, 2019, and the jury ultimately returned a verdict in
Defendant's favor. (Doc. 151.) On the verdict form, the
jury indicated (1) Plaintiffs had not proven by a
preponderance of the evidence that Defendant breached the
parties' contract; (2) Defendant had proven by a
preponderance of the evidence that Plaintiffs waived the
delivery dates in the contract; and (3) Plaintiffs had not
proven by a preponderance of the evidence that Defendant
breached the contract by failing to deliver the welders in a
“reasonable time.” (Id.)
October 17, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a motion for a new trial,
alleging the jury's verdict that Plaintiffs had not
proven Defendant breached the contract by failing to deliver
the welders in a “reasonable time” was against
the weight of the evidence. (Doc. 173.) Plaintiffs contend
the jury failed to properly consider the forty-two-day
delivery deadline Defendant's project manager proposed at
a February 2, 2016, meeting. (Doc. 174.) Plaintiffs argue the
proposal of forty-two days was a binding, judicial admission
as to the “reasonable time” for delivery.
(Id.) Plaintiffs also contend testimony at trial
demonstrated Defendant would never have been able to deliver
the welders in a “reasonable time” because it was
never ready to conduct the contractually required runoff
testing. (Id.) Plaintiffs assert Defendant did not,
and could not, deliver the welders in a “reasonable
time” and thus, the jury's verdict was against the
weight of the evidence. (Id.)
has filed a response in opposition. (Doc. 176.) Defendant
contends the evidence at trial showed Plaintiffs did not
provide a time limit for the additional pre-delivery work
they requested and failed to provide a reasonable
notification before cancelling the parties' contract.
(Id.) Defendant also disputes that the delivery
deadline proposed on February 2, 2016, constituted a judicial
admission for the “reasonable time” to deliver
the welders. (Id.) Even if there was a judicial
admission, Defendant contends it would not preclude the
jury's consideration of Defendant's evidence as to
why it was taking Defendant more time to complete the
welders. (Id.) Thus, Defendant asserts the evidence
taken as a whole supports the jury's verdict.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Federal Rule of Evidence 59, a party may move for a new 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). The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals
has explained Rule 59 requires a new trial only “when a
jury has reached a ‘seriously erroneous result' as
evidenced by (1) the verdict being against the weight of the
evidence; (2) the damages being excessive; or (3) the trial
being unfair to the moving party in some fashion.”
Mike's Train House, Inc. v. Lionel,
LLC, 472 F.3d 398, 405 (6th Cir. 2006) (quoting
Holmes v. City of Massillon, 78 F.3d 1041, 1045-46
(6th Cir. 1996)).
should only grant a new trial on the grounds that the verdict
was against the weight of the evidence if “the verdict
was unreasonable[.]” Barnes v. Owens-Corning
Fiberglas Corp., 201 F.3d 815, 821 (6th Cir. 2000)
(citing Holmes, 78 F.3d at 1047-48). In determining
whether the verdict was unreasonable, a court may not
“reweigh the evidence and set aside the jury verdict
merely because the jury could have drawn different inferences
or conclusions or because . . . other results are more
reasonable.” Id. (citing Duncan v.
Duncan, 377 F.2d 49, 52 (6th Cir. 1967)). “[I]f a
reasonable juror could reach the challenged verdict, a new
trial is improper.” Id. The burden is on the
moving party to demonstrate a new trial is necessary.
Clarksville-Montgomery Cty. Sch. Sys v. U.S. Gypsum
Co., 925 F.2d 993, 1002 (6th Cir. 1991).
jury was instructed, in the absence of a specific time for
delivery, the time for delivery is a “reasonable
time.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-2-309. What
constitutes a “reasonable time” for delivery
“depends upon what constitutes acceptable commercial
conduct in view of the nature, purpose, and circumstances of
the action to be taken.” Tenn. Code Ann. §
47-2-309, Official Comment 1. Before a failure to deliver in
a “reasonable time” may be treated as a breach of
contract, the party awaiting delivery must provide the
delivering party with a reasonable notification. See
Tenn. Code Ann. § 47-2-309, Official Comment 5.
Court will first address Plaintiffs' contention that a
“reasonable time” for delivery was determined by
judicial admission and will then consider whether the verdict
was against the weight of the evidence.