United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
Honorable Richard A. Jones United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Flow International
Corporation's (“Flow”) Renewed Motion for
Judgment as a Matter of Law and Motion for a New Trial. Dkt.
# 98. Plaintiff Ruiz Fajardo Ingenieros Asociados S.A.S.
(“Ruiz Fajardo”) has opposed this Motion, and
Defendant has filed a Reply. Dkt. ## 103, 105. For the
reasons stated below, the Court DENIES
December 13, 2016, Ruiz Fajardo brought this action against
Flow, asserting claims under Washington law against Flow for
breach of contract and warranty arising out of the sale of a
waterjet cutting machine. Dkt. # 1. Prior to trial, the
parties submitted a joint statement of disputed jury
instructions. Dkt. # 50. Flow proposed that the instruction
defining defects in workmanship and materials include the
following language: “A defect in workmanship or
material does not include a design defect. A design defect
exists when the product is built in accordance with its
intended specifications, but the design itself is inherently
defective.” Id. at 24. The Court did not
include this language in its final instruction, which stated
in full: “The express warranty in the sales contract is
one for a defect in workmanship and materials. A defect in
workmanship is a defect in the way some part of the machine
is constructed. A defect in material is a defect in
quality.” Dkt. # 67 at 18.
jury trial began on January 28, 2019 and concluded on
February 6, 2019. Dkt. # 61-66. Shortly before the jury
rendered its verdict, the jury asked the Court: “In
lieu of lost profits may we award compensation in form of the
amount of contract price of a Mach 4 $437, 830?” Dkt. #
72. After conferring with counsel, the Court responded:
“You may award damages you believe are appropriate and
recoverable in light of the instructions provided to
you.” Id. at 2; see also Dkt. # 68.
On February 7, 2019, the jury entered a verdict in favor of
Ruiz Fajardo, awarding Ruiz Fajardo $437, 830 in unspecified
damages. Dkt. # 74.
parties proceeded to file several post-trial motions. Ruiz
Fajardo filed (1) a Motion for Attorney Fees and Costs (Dkt.
# 84); and (2) a Motion for Bill of Costs (Dkt. # 89). The
Court has not yet ruled on these motions. Flow filed (1) a
Motion to Quash (Dkt. # 91); and (2) the present Motion. The
Court granted Flow's Motion the Quash. Dkt. # 107.
Motion contains three parts. First, Flow moves under Rule
50(b) for a renewed judgment as a matter of law. Dkt. # 98 at
7-10. Next, Flow moves under Rule 59 for a new trial.
Id. at 11-16. Finally, Flow moves under Rule 62 for
a stay of enforcement pending resolution of the parties'
post-trial motions. Id. at 17. The Court addresses
each in turn.
Motion for Renewed Judgment as a Matter of Law
February 1, 2019, immediately after the close of Ruiz
Fajardo's case, Flow brought an oral Rule 50(a) Motion
for Judgment as a Matter of Law on two bases: (1) Ruiz
Fajardo had no legally sufficient basis to prove that the
software issues it allegedly suffered were covered under the
express warranty at issue in this case; and (2) Ruiz Fajardo
had no legally sufficient basis to recover lost profits for a
new business line. Dkt. # 81 at 96:5-107:21. The Court denied
the motion, and Flow has now renewed it. See Id. at
the jury has entered its verdict, judgment as a matter of law
may be granted “only if the Court finds that no
reasonable jury could have produced that verdict, even
viewing the evidence and drawing all inferences in a manner
most favorable to the prevailing party.” Morales v.
Fry, C12-2235-JCC, 2014 WL 4966908, at *2 (W.D. Wash.
Oct. 3, 2014), aff'd, 873 F.3d 817 (9th Cir.
2017). Judgment as a matter of law is “appropriate when
the evidence presented at trail permits only one reasonable
conclusion.” Torres v. City of Los Angeles,
548 F.3d 1197, 1205 (9th Cir. 2008); see also Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250-51 (1986). A
party who moved for judgment as a matter of law during trial
may renew his request for judgment as a matter of law after
entry of judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b). After trial, a renewed
motion may be granted only if the evidence, “permits
only one reasonable conclusion, and that conclusion is
contrary to the jury's verdict.” Josephs v.
Pacific Bell, 443 F.3d 1050, 1062 (9th Cir. 2005). On
motion for judgment as a matter of law, the “evidence
must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party, and all reasonable inferences must be drawn in favor
of that party.” LaLonde v. County of
Riverside, 204 F.3d 947, 959 (9th Cir. 2000); see
also Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 530
U.S. 133, 149-50 (2000).
Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law focuses on one
of the issues raised in its Rule 50(a) Motion: whether the
Contract's limited warranty covered software defects,
which Flow designates “design defects.” Dkt. # 98
at 7-10. Flow contends that there is no “legally
sufficient basis” for a reasonable jury to find that
the express warranty at issue in this case covered design
defects, which Flow contends were “the only defects
Plaintiff presented to the jury as the basis for its breach
of warranty claim.” Dkt. # 98 at 8-10. The Court does
not necessarily agree with either the premises or conclusion
of this argument. First, the Court agrees with Ruiz Fajardo
that the jury was presented with evidence of potential
defects beyond the software “design defects” Flow
identifies. See, e.g., Dkt. # 79 at 136:17-137:9
(identifying x-axis motor as potential cause of start-up
issues); Ex. 21 (describing repairs by Flow including
replacement of various machine parts); Ex. 38 (describing
leaks in various parts and overheating power cord); Ex. 39
(describing needs for replacement of various parts). This
evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to Ruiz Fajardo,
could have provided a basis for the jury's verdict
separate from the software “design defect” issue.
Second, the Court is still not convinced that Washington law
mandates that software “design defects” be
excluded from the parties' Limited Warranty in this case.
Although Flow provides some cases distinguishing between
defects in software design and defects in material quality
(see Dkt. # 98 at 8-9), none of the authorities cited by Flow
originate from Washington or address Washington law. See
McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Thiokol Corp., 124 F.3d 1173,
1177 (9th Cir. 1997) (analyzing California law); McCabe
v. Am. Honda Motor Co., 100 Cal.App.4th 1111, 1120
(2002) (same); Bros. v. Hewlett-Packard Co.,
C-06-02254RMW, 2007 WL 485979, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 12,
2007) (same); see also Lombard Corp. v. Quality Aluminum
Prod. Co., 261 F.2d 336, 338 (6th Cir. 1958) (analyzing
Ohio law); Hughes v. Panasonic Consumer Elecs. Co.,
CIV.A. 10-846 SDW, 2011 WL 2976839, at *19 (D.N.J. July 21,
2011) (analyzing New Jersey law). Washington law applies to
the parties' contractual dispute, and Flow fails to
provide Washington authorities for its arguments here, or
show that the authorities it cites have ever been applied in
Washington. At this point in the litigation, the Court does
not have a sufficient basis to reinterpret the terms of the
parties' agreement, or create new Washington precedent
when there is no compelling reason to do so.
the Court DENIES Flow's Renewed Motion
for Judgment as a Matter of Law.