United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
RICHARD J. THOMPSON
YELLOW FIN MARINE SERVICES, LLC.
ORDER AND REASONS
S. VANCE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Richard J. Thompson moves for a new trial under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 59(a). In support of his motion, Thompson
argues that the jury's interrogatory responses are
inconsistent. The Court finds that the responses may be
reconciled if the jury found that Thompson and Yellow Fin
Marine Services, LLC were both partially responsible for the
collision of the K-MARINE XI, but that Thompson's alleged
medical issues were not caused by the collision.
Thompson's motion is therefore denied.
August 1, 2014, the K-MARINE XI, a ship operated by defendant
Yellow Fin Marine Services, LLC, struck an energy platform in
the Gulf of Mexico. Plaintiff Richard J. Thompson is a former
Yellow Fin employee and served as captain aboard the K-MARINE
XI at the time of the collision.
Yellow Fin employee, deckhand Joseph Tucker, was at the
K-MARINE XI's wheel at the time of the collision.
sued Yellow Fin, alleging that he sustained injuries in the
collision. Yellow Fin counterclaimed for damage to the
K-MARINE XI. On August 1 through 3, 2016, the Court held a
jury trial. At trial, Yellow Fin argued in its defense: (1)
that Thompson, rather than Yellow Fin, was responsible for
the collision; and (2) that Thompson was not injured in the
collision, and that Thompson's alleged health issues in
fact predate the accident.
verdict form, the jury found that Yellow Fin was not
responsible for any injuries to Thompson. As to Yellow Fin's
counterclaims, the jury found Thompson liable, but found that
Thompson was only 50 percent at fault for the
The jury assigned the remaining 50 percent of fault to Yellow
now argues that these findings are inconsistent, and that
Thompson is therefore entitled to a new trial.
Rule of Civil Procedure 59(a) provides that a district court
may grant a new trial “on all or some of the issues . .
. after a jury 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). The decision to grant or
deny a motion for a new trial is within the sound discretion
of the trial court. See Pryor v. Trane Company, 138
F.3d 1024, 1026 (5th Cir. 1998). Although Rule 59(a) does not
enumerate grounds for a new trial, a district court may grant
a new trial if the court finds that the verdict is against
the weight of the evidence, the damages awarded are excessive
or inadequate, the trial was unfair, or prejudicial error was
committed in its course. See Smith v. Transworld Drilling
Co., 773 F.2d 610, 613 (5th Cir. 1985).
a new trial must be granted when the Court is unable
logically to reconcile an inconsistent jury verdict. See
Willard v. The John Hayward, 577 F.2d 1009, 1011 (5th
Cir. 1978) (“If the jury gives inconsistent answers to
special interrogatories, the case must be remanded for a new
trial . . . only if there is no way to reconcile
them.”). But, in keeping with the “federal policy
favoring jury decisions of disputed fact questions”
embodied in the Seventh Amendment, before ordering a new
trial the Court “must attempt to reconcile the
jury's findings, by exegesis if necessary.”
Carr v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 312 F.3d 667, 672
(5th Cir. 2002) (internal quotations and modifications
as noted, argues that the jury's interrogatory responses
are inconsistent, and therefore he is entitled to a new
trial. On the verdict form, the jury gave the following
1. Do you find by a preponderance of the evidence that Yellow
Fin Marine Services, LLC was negligent under the Jones Act
and that such negligence was a legal ...