Lack of post-verdict motion dooms fired employee’s appeal

February 26, 2015

The 7th Circuit court of Appeals quickly affirmed a jury verdict against a former employee in the Lake County Auditor’s Office who claimed she was unlawfully terminated for political reasons. The ex-employee failed to file any post-verdict motions, a necessary first step for the appeals court to review the case.

Betty Ruth Nelson claimed she was fired from the Lake County Auditor’s Office in retaliation for her political support of Barack Obama. After a jury trial, the court entered judgment against Nelson in accordance with the jury’s verdict.

Nelson appealed in Betty Ruth Nelson v. Peggy Holinga Katona, individually and in her official capacity as Lake County Auditor, et al., 13-1652, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the verdict.

But Nelson failed to do a very important step in appealing the verdict: She did not file any post-verdict motions. As a result, the appeals court could not consider her claim.

“Here, not only did Nelson fail to move for a judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50(a) at any point before the case was submitted to the jury, she did not make any motion pursuant to Rule 50(b) or Rule 59 after the jury returned its verdict,” Judge William Bauer wrote. “Nelson’s failure to file any post-verdict motions precludes her from challenging the sufficiency of the evidence underlying the jury’s verdict.”


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