Anderson v. United Telephone Co. of Kansas

Decision Date06 May 1991
Docket NumberNo. 89-3152,89-3152
Citation933 F.2d 1500
Parties119 Lab.Cas. P 56,637, 19 Fed.R.Serv.3d 1227 Denver Earl ANDERSON, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. UNITED TELEPHONE COMPANY OF KANSAS, Defendant-Appellee.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Tenth Circuit

Kelly L. McClelland, Hale, Kincaid, Waters & Allen, P.C., Liberty, Mo., and Benjamin F. Farney, Law Offices of Benjamin F. Farney, Overland Park, Kan., for plaintiff-appellant.

Arlyn D. Haxton (Jennifer A. Putman with him on the brief), of Armstrong, Teasdale, Schlafly, Davis & Dicus, Kansas City, Mo., for defendant-appellee.

Before SEYMOUR, TACHA and BRORBY, Circuit Judges.

TACHA, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff-appellant Denver Anderson appeals a district court order granting a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict in favor of defendant-appellee United Telephone Company of Kansas (UTC). On appeal, Anderson argues the district court erred by finding a criminal blacklisting conviction is required for civil blacklisting liability. Anderson also argues the district court erred in granting a judgment for UTC because UTC did not base the motion for judgment n.o.v. on the same grounds raised in the motion for directed verdict. We exercise jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. Sec. 1291 and affirm.

Anderson was terminated from his employment with UTC in November 1985. In December 1985, he interviewed with United Telephone Company of Missouri, a company affiliated with UTC. He was not offered employment with that company. Anderson also was denied employment with Installation Technicians, Inc., a company that has contracted with UTC for telephone installation. Anderson ultimately brought suit against UTC in federal district court, alleging civil blacklisting in violation of title 44, section 119 of the Kansas Statutes; age discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. Secs. 621 et seq.; breach of an implied employment contract; and fraud. Anderson concedes UTC has not been prosecuted for criminal blacklisting.

At the close of Anderson's case at trial, UTC moved for a directed verdict on the five claims. The district court entered judgment for UTC on the fraud claim. At the close of all the evidence, UTC moved for a directed verdict on the remaining claims. UTC specifically argued the evidence was insufficient to support a claim for civil blacklisting under section 44-119. The court deferred ruling on UTC's motion for directed verdict and submitted the case to the jury. The jury found in favor of UTC on the age discrimination, retaliation, and breach of contract claims. On the civil blacklisting claim, however, the jury returned a verdict for Anderson and awarded damages.

Following the jury verdict, UTC filed a motion for judgment n.o.v. and a motion for a new trial on the blacklisting claim, again arguing the evidence is insufficient to support a jury verdict against UTC for civil blacklisting. In a supplemental brief supporting the motion for judgment n.o.v., UTC argued Anderson's failure to introduce evidence that UTC had been convicted of criminal blacklisting precluded recovery for civil blacklisting. Anderson filed a motion for new trial on the breach of contract claim. The court ultimately denied Anderson's motion for a new trial on the breach of contract claim but granted UTC's motion for judgment n.o.v. on the blacklisting claim.

Anderson contends a criminal conviction under sections 44-117 and 44-118 is not required for civil liability under section 44-119. We review this question of statutory interpretation de novo. See Stissi v. Interstate & Ocean Transp. Co., 765 F.2d 370, 374 (2d Cir.1985); United States v. Horowitz, 756 F.2d 1400, 1403 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 822, 106 S.Ct. 74, 88 L.Ed.2d 60 (1985). In 1897, the Kansas legislature enacted the blacklisting law at issue in this case. The statute states:

Any employer of labor in this state, after having discharged any person from his service, shall not prevent or attempt to prevent by word, sign or writing of any kind whatsoever any such discharged employee from obtaining employment from any other person, company or corporation, except by furnishing in writing, on request, the cause of such discharge.

Kan.Stat. Sec. 44-117 (1986). The statute establishes criminal penalties for a blacklisting violation:

Any employer of labor, his agent or employee, who shall violate the provisions of this act shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall upon conviction be fined for each offense the sum of one hundred dollars and thirty days' imprisonment in the county jail.

Id. Sec. 44-118. The statute also provides for civil penalties:

Any person, firm or corporation found guilty of the violation of this act, shall be liable to the party injured to an amount equal to three times the sum he may be injured, and such employers of labor shall also be liable for a reasonable attorney fee, which shall be taxed as part of the costs in the case.

Id. Sec. 44-119 (emphasis added).

In discerning the Kansas legislature's intent in section 44-119, we first look to the statutory language. Mead Corp. v. Tilley, 490 U.S. 714, 722, 109 S.Ct. 2156, 2161-62, 104 L.Ed.2d 796 (1989); Watt v. Alaska, 451 U.S. 259, 265-66, 101 S.Ct. 1673, 1677, 68 L.Ed.2d 80 (1981). Legislative purpose generally is expressed in the ordinary meaning of the words the legislature has used. See United States v. Locke, 471 U.S. 84, 95, 105 S.Ct. 1785, 1792, 85 L.Ed.2d 64 (1985); Perrin v. United States, 444 U.S. 37, 42, 100 S.Ct. 311, 314, 62 L.Ed.2d 199 (1979). Further, the legislature's use of two different terms is presumed to be intentional. National Wildlife Fed'n v. Gorsuch, 693 F.2d 156, 172 (D.C.Cir.1982) (citing Russell v. Law Enforcement Assistance Admin. of the United States, 637 F.2d 354 (5th Cir. Unit A 1981)).

Here, an examination of the statutory language indicates a criminal blacklisting conviction is required for civil recovery under section 44-119. The statute states: "Any ... corporation found guilty of the violation of this act, shall be liable to the party injured...." 44 Kan.Stat. Sec. 44-119. In this provision, the legislature specifically used the terms "guilty" and "liable." Presuming the use of both terms to be intentional, we construe these terms in an ordinary way to mean criminal guilt and civil liability. When these terms are regarded in the context of the entire provision, we are convinced the Kansas legislature meant a corporation shall "be liable" only when it has been "found guilty" of criminal blacklisting. Based on the plain language of the statute, we hold a criminal blacklisting conviction is an element of a civil blacklisting claim against an employer under Kansas law.

Anderson contends the district court erred in granting judgment for UTC because UTC did not base the motion for judgment n.o.v. on the same grounds raised in the motion for directed verdict. Rule 50(b) states: "Whenever a motion for a directed verdict made at the close of all the evidence is denied or for any reason is not granted, the court is deemed to have submitted the action to the jury subject to a later determination of the legal questions raised by the motion." According to Rule 50(a), "[a] motion for a directed verdict shall state the specific grounds therefor." A motion for judgment n.o.v. cannot assert new matters not presented in the motion for directed verdict. Dow Chemical Corp. v. Weevil-Cide Co., 897 F.2d 481, 486 (10th Cir.1990); United States v. Fenix & Scisson, Inc., 360 F.2d 260, 265 (10th Cir.1966), cert. denied, 386 U.S. 1036, 87 S.Ct. 1474, 18 L.Ed.2d 599 (1967).

This court has recognized that in satisfying the requirements of Rule 50, technical precision is unnecessary. Fenix & Scisson, 360 F.2d at 266. Because the requirement of Rule 50 that a directed verdict motion must precede a motion for judgment n.o.v. is " 'harsh in any circumstance[ ],' " a directed verdict motion should not be reviewed narrowly but rather in light of the purpose of the rules to secure a just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of a case. 9 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure Sec. 2537, at 597 n. 32 (1971) (quoting Mosley v. Cia. Mar. Adra S.A., 362 F.2d 118, 121-22 (2d Cir.1966), cert. denied, 385 U.S. 933, 87 S.Ct. 292, 17 L.Ed.2d 213, 385 U.S. 933, 87 S.Ct. 296, 17 L.Ed.2d 213 (1966)); see also National Indus., Inc. v. Sharon Steel Corp., 781 F.2d 1545, 1549 (11th Cir.1986) (taking liberal view because "rule is a harsh one"). As the Fourth Circuit has noted, "rigid application of this rule is inappropriate ... where such application serves neither of the rule's rationales--protecting the Seventh Amendment right to trial by jury, and ensuring that the opposing party has enough notice of the alleged error to permit an attempt to cure it before resting." FSLIC v. Reeves, 816 F.2d 130, 138 (4th Cir.1987); see also McCarty v. Pheasant Run, Inc. 826 F.2d 1554, 1556 (7th Cir.1987) (modern rationale of rule is opposing party should have opportunity to rectify deficiencies in evidence presented to jury before it is too late); Miller v. Rowan Cos., 815 F.2d 1021, 1024 n. 4, 1025 (5th Cir.1987) (aims of rule include avoiding trapping plaintiff after submittal to jury because he cannot then cure defects in proof and securing fair trial); Lifshitz v. Walter Drake & Sons, Inc., 806 F.2d 1426, 1429 (9th Cir.1986) (purpose of directed verdict motion is to provide notice of claimed evidentiary insufficiencies and preserve issue of sufficiency of evidence as question of law); Sharon Steel Corp., 781 F.2d at 1549 (purpose of directed verdict requirement is to avoid ambushing court and opposing party after the verdict so that only remedy is completely new trial) (citing Quinn v. Southwest Wood Prods., Inc., 597 F.2d 1018, 1025 (5th Cir.1979)); Acosta v. Honda Motor Co., 717 F.2d 828, 831-32 (3d Cir.1983) (same) (citing Wall v. United States, 592 F.2d 154 (3d...

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