615 F.3d 991 (8th Cir. 2010), 09-2914, Howard v. Missouri Bone and Joint Center, Inc.

Docket Nº09-2914.
Citation615 F.3d 991
Opinion JudgeSHEPHERD, Circuit Judge.
Party NameAlvin HOWARD, Appellee, v. MISSOURI BONE AND JOINT CENTER, INC., Appellant.
AttorneyWilliam J. Knapp, argued, Edwardsville, IL, for Appellee. Brent Winfield Baldwin, argued, St. Louis, MO, for Appellant.
Judge PanelBefore WOLLMAN, MURPHY, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.
Case DateAugust 12, 2010
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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615 F.3d 991 (8th Cir. 2010)

Alvin HOWARD, Appellee,

v.

MISSOURI BONE AND JOINT CENTER, INC., Appellant.

No. 09-2914.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

August 12, 2010

Submitted: April 12, 2010.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 993

William J. Knapp, argued, Edwardsville, IL, for Appellee.

Brent Winfield Baldwin, argued, St. Louis, MO, for Appellant.

Before WOLLMAN, MURPHY, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

SHEPHERD, Circuit Judge.

Appellee Alvin Howard brought this negligence action against Missouri Bone and Joint Center, Inc. (" MBJC" ), alleging that MBJC's negligence caused the back injury Howard sustained in 2001. The jury returned a verdict for Howard, after which MBJC filed a motion for judgment as a matter of law or for new trial. The district court 1 overruled that motion and this appeal followed. We affirm.

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I.

As this appeal is from the denial of a motion for judgment as a matter of law, we recite the facts of this case in the light most favorable to Howard, the prevailing party. See Keenan v. Computer Assocs. Int'l, Inc., 13 F.3d 1266, 1268-69 (8th Cir.1994). In the autumn of 2000, Howard was a student at Greenville College in Greenville, Illinois, and a talented running back on the Greenville football team. On November 21, 2000, following an ankle injury, Howard first visited MBJC, an orthopedic and physical training clinic in St. Louis, Missouri. Howard was interested in working out with an athletic trainer in order to improve his football skills. Kevin Templin, a certified athletic trainer employed by MBJC, provided Howard with an initial evaluation. This initial evaluation consisted of an interview, measurements, and some performance testing. Templin asked Howard to estimate the maximum amount of weight Howard could lift while performing certain exercises, including bench press and squat lifts.2 Importantly, however, Howard did not do any actual squat lifts on November 21, although this was part of a standard MBJC evaluation. Templin testified that this was because he simply ran out of time. Additionally, Templin did not ask Howard when he had last exercised. In reality, Howard had not done any lower-body workouts in the previous 12 weeks, due to his ankle injury.

On January 8, 2001, Howard returned to MBJC to train under Templin's supervision. Templin employed a " pyramiding" technique with Howard, in which Howard would lift progressively more weight, but with fewer repetitions per set. Howard performed a number of exercises that day, including four sets of squat lifts, without incident. Howard returned on January 10 for another workout with Templin. In the middle of a ten-repetition set of squats, Howard felt a pop and a sharp pain in his lower back. Howard immediately informed Templin of this pain, who responded " no pain, no gain" and that Howard should " push through it." (Trial Tr. vol. 2, 127.) Howard was able to finish the set, during which his pain increased significantly. Howard testified that his " pain went from ... a 6 when it first happened to a 10 instantly." ( Id. at 130.) This pain ranged from Howard's lower back, through his left buttocks and down through his left leg. Following Howard's completion of the set of squat lifts, and at Templin's instruction, Howard did some stretching and rode a stationary bike, neither of which relieved his pain.

After seeking treatment at various hospitals, Howard was eventually referred to neurosurgeon Dr. Gregory J. Bailey. Dr. Bailey examined Howard on March 5, 2001, and diagnosed him with a herniated disc in his back. Dr. Bailey surgically repaired Howard's herniated disc on March 20, 2001.

In August 2005, Howard filed this action against MBJC, alleging that MBJC was negligent in three respects: (1) by failing to conduct a proper evaluation of Howard before designing a workout program; (2) by instructing Howard to continue to workout after being advised of his back pain during the workout; and (3) by failing to discontinue Howard's workout after being advised of his back pain. At trial, Howard testified about his back injury and

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how it has affected his life and his aspirations to play professional football. Templin testified about his recollection of how Howard's injury happened and about his training techniques. Templin admitted that he did not note when Howard had last worked out, and admitted that this is important information to consider when designing a workout.

According to Dr. Bailey's videotaped deposition testimony, which was played for the jury, Howard's injury " was causally related to" the January 10 incident, and the injury caused Howard significant pain and permanently damaged Howard's back. (J.A. 15.) Finally, Mike Hadden, a certified athletic trainer and the Director of Athletic Training at Simpson College, testified for MBJC about the standard of care for certified athletic trainers such as Templin. Hadden testified that Templin's actions of telling Howard to continue lifting, even after Howard felt significant pain in his back, constituted a violation of the standard of care. Hadden also testified that Templin's evaluation of Howard was proper, but admitted on cross-examination that Templin should have tested Howard on squat lifts.

At the close of all evidence, MBJC moved for judgment as a matter of law under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50, which was denied. The case was submitted to the jury on a disjunctive instruction, allowing the jury to rule for Howard if they found that (1) MBJC committed any one of the three negligent acts alleged, and (2) this negligence injured Howard. The jury returned a verdict for Howard in the amount of $175,000. Shortly thereafter, MBJC filed a renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law, or in the alternative, for a new trial, which was denied.

II.

MBJC appeals the district court's denial of its motion for judgment as a matter of law, or in the alternative, for a new trial. We review de novo the district court's denial of a motion for judgment as a matter of law, using the same standards as the district court. See Keenan, 13 F.3d at 1268. Under Rule 50, if " the court finds that a reasonable jury would not have a legally sufficient evidentiary basis to find for [a] party on [an] issue, the court may ... grant a motion for judgment as a matter of law against the party." Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(a). On appeal, we " must not engage in a weighing or evaluation of the evidence or consider questions of credibility," Keenan, 13 F.3d at 1269 (quotation omitted), and " we must give great deference to the jury's verdict," Heaton v. The Weitz Co., 534 F.3d 882, 889 (8th Cir.2008) (quotation omitted). " Judgment as a matter of law is appropriate only when all of the evidence points one way and is ‘ susceptible of no reasonable inference sustaining the position of the nonmoving party.’ " Keenan, 13 F.3d at 1269 ( quoting White v. Pence, 961 F.2d 776, 779 (8th Cir.1992)).

The standard for granting a motion for new trial is higher still. Under Rule 59, the decision to grant a new trial lies within the sound discretion...

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42 practice notes
  • Tanner v. City of Sullivan, 062813 MOEDC, 4:11-CV-1361 NAB
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 8th Circuit United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
    • June 28, 2013
    ...The decision to grant a new trial lies within the sound discretion of the trial court. Howard v. Missouri Bone and Joint Center, Inc., 615 F.3d 991, 995 (8th Cir. 2010). The court should only grant a motion for a new trial to avoid a miscarriage of justice. Id. Inaccuracies or errors should......
  • Jo Ann Howard & Associates, P.C. v. Cassity, 112015 MOEDC, 4:09CV01252 ERW
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 8th Circuit United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
    • November 20, 2015
    ...and is susceptible of no reasonable inference sustaining the position of the nonmoving party.” Howard v. Mo. Bone & Joint Ct., Inc., 615 F.3d 991, 995 (8th Cir. 2010). The Court must “view the evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party and must not engage in a weighing......
  • 916 F.Supp.2d 945 (D.S.D. 2013), Civ. 10-4022-JLV, Skrovig v. BNSF Railway Co.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 8th Circuit United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • January 16, 2013
    ...of no reasonable inference sustaining the position of the nonmoving party." Howard v. Missouri Bone & Joint Center, Inc., 615 F.3d 991, 995 (8th Cir.2010) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The court " must not engage in a weighing or evaluation of the evidence o......
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. JBS USA, LLC, 012714 NEDC, 8:10CV318
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 8th Circuit United States District Court of Nebraska
    • January 27, 2014
    ...and its decision will not be reversed on appeal absent a clear abuse of that discretion." Howard v. Mo. Bone & Joint Ctr., Inc., 615 F.3d 991, 995 (8th Cir. 2010). "The key question in determining whether a new trial is warranted is whether it is necessary to prevent a miscarr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
42 cases
  • Tanner v. City of Sullivan, 062813 MOEDC, 4:11-CV-1361 NAB
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 8th Circuit United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
    • June 28, 2013
    ...The decision to grant a new trial lies within the sound discretion of the trial court. Howard v. Missouri Bone and Joint Center, Inc., 615 F.3d 991, 995 (8th Cir. 2010). The court should only grant a motion for a new trial to avoid a miscarriage of justice. Id. Inaccuracies or errors should......
  • Jo Ann Howard & Associates, P.C. v. Cassity, 112015 MOEDC, 4:09CV01252 ERW
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 8th Circuit United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
    • November 20, 2015
    ...and is susceptible of no reasonable inference sustaining the position of the nonmoving party.” Howard v. Mo. Bone & Joint Ct., Inc., 615 F.3d 991, 995 (8th Cir. 2010). The Court must “view the evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party and must not engage in a weighing......
  • 916 F.Supp.2d 945 (D.S.D. 2013), Civ. 10-4022-JLV, Skrovig v. BNSF Railway Co.
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 8th Circuit United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • January 16, 2013
    ...of no reasonable inference sustaining the position of the nonmoving party." Howard v. Missouri Bone & Joint Center, Inc., 615 F.3d 991, 995 (8th Cir.2010) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The court " must not engage in a weighing or evaluation of the evidence o......
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. JBS USA, LLC, 012714 NEDC, 8:10CV318
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 8th Circuit United States District Court of Nebraska
    • January 27, 2014
    ...and its decision will not be reversed on appeal absent a clear abuse of that discretion." Howard v. Mo. Bone & Joint Ctr., Inc., 615 F.3d 991, 995 (8th Cir. 2010). "The key question in determining whether a new trial is warranted is whether it is necessary to prevent a miscarr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results