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Hampton v. Dillard Dep't Stores, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

April 24, 2001, Filed

No. 98-3011, No. 98-3261, No. 98-3306

Opinion

 [*1098]  HENRY, Circuit Judge.

Paula Darlene Hampton filed suit against Dillard Department Stores, Inc. (Dillard's), claiming that the company had [**2]  unlawfully interfered with her right to make and enforce a contract in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. A jury awarded her compensatory and punitive damages based on its findings that (1) Ms. Hampton "was entitled to a free cologne sample as a benefit or privilege of her purchase on  [*1099]  April 5, 1996," Aplt's App. vol. 1, at 147 (verdict form from phase one of trial); (2) Dillard's "intentionally interfered with her ability to receive a free cologne sample," id.; and (3) Ms. Hampton's "race was a motivating factor in Dillard's conduct on April 5, 1996." Id. at 160 (verdict form from phase two of trial). Dillard's thereafter filed a motion for judgment as a matter of law, which the district court denied. Dillard's now appeals, raising various objections to the district court's denial of its motion.

] We review the district court's denial of Dillard's motion for judgment as a matter of law de novo, "applying the same legal standard as the district court." Brown v. Gray, 227 F.3d 1278, 1285 (10th Cir. 2000). ] A party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law "only if the evidence points but one way and is susceptible to no reasonable inferences [**3]  which may support the opposing party's position." Tyler v. RE/MAX Mountain States, Inc., 232 F.3d 808, 812 (10th Cir. 2000). It is important to note that, "] in reviewing the record, we will not weigh evidence, judge witness credibility, or challenge the factual conclusions of the jury. Judgment as a matter of law is appropriate only if there is no legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a claim under the controlling law. We consider the evidence, and any inferences drawn therefrom, in favor of the non-moving party." Brown, 227 F.3d at 1285 (emphasis added and internal quotation marks omitted).

Thus, Dillard's has a high hurdle to overcome. The focus of Dillard's appeal is on three questions: (1) whether the fragrance coupon was in fact a benefit of Ms. Hampton's purchase; (2) whether there was indeed intentional interference with Ms. Hampton's redemption of the coupon; and (3) whether the interference was in the end based on racial discrimination. We agree with the district court that these are questions of fact, not law, see, e.g., Hampton v. Dillard's Dep't Stores, Inc., 18 F. Supp. 2d 1256, 1265 (D. Kan. 1998) (noting [**4]  that the issue of discrimination is a question of fact), and the jury made explicit findings as to each. ] On appellate review, we cannot challenge the jury's findings of fact; instead, we may only ask whether there was a "legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to find for Ms. Hampton" on each fact. Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(a). Because there was such a basis, we must affirm the district court's order.

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247 F.3d 1091 *; 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 7429 **; 2001 Colo. J. C.A.R. 2056

PAULA DARLENE HAMPTON, Plaintiff, DEMETRIA COOPER, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. DILLARD DEPARTMENT STORES, INC., Defendant-Appellee, LAWYERS' COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER LAW, Amicus Curiae. PAULA DARLENE HAMPTON, Plaintiff-Appellee, DEMETRIA COOPER, Plaintiff, v. DILLARD DEPARTMENT STORES, INC., Defendant-Appellant, LAWYERS' COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER LAW, Amicus Curiae. PAULA DARLENE HAMPTON, Plaintiff-Appellee, DEMETRIA COOPER, Plaintiff, v. DILLARD DEPARTMENT STORES, INC., Defendant-Appellant.

Subsequent History:  [**1]  Certiorari Denied February 19, 2002, Reported at: 2002 U.S. LEXIS 698.

Prior History: APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS. (D.C. No. 97-CV-2182-KHV). D.C. Judge Kathryn H. Vratil.

Disposition: Dillard's motions for judgment as a matter of law and new trial AFFIRMED; district court's award of compensatory and punitive damages AFFIRMED; district court's grant of summary dismissing Cooper's claims AFFIRMED; district court's award of attorney's fees to Hampton AFFIRMED.

CORE TERMS

coupon, district court, fragrance, contends, redemption, customer, punitive damages, matter of law, instructions, cologne, no evidence, award of punitive damages, summary judgment, shopping, counter, damages, phase, surveillance, shoppers, contractual relationship, discriminatory, discriminate, credibility, quotation, marks, compensatory damages, redeeming, racial discrimination, shoplifting, ratio

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Trials, Judgment as Matter of Law, General Overview, Civil Rights Law, Contractual Relations & Housing, Equal Rights Under the Law (sec. 1981), Proof of Discrimination, Labor & Employment Law, Collective Bargaining & Labor Relations, Unfair Labor Practices, Protection of Rights, Protected Classes, Business & Corporate Compliance, Contracts Law, Standards of Performance, Delivery & Tender, Contracts Law, Contract Formation, Offers, Evidence, Admissibility, Circumstantial & Direct Evidence, Racial Discrimination, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Employee Burdens of Proof, Weight & Sufficiency, Abuse of Discretion, Judgments, Relief From Judgments, Motions for New Trials, Criminal Law & Procedure, De Novo Review, Jury Instructions, Jury Trials, Jury Instructions, Reviewability of Lower Court Decisions, Preservation for Review, Plain Error, Definition of Plain Error, Summary Judgment, Partial Summary Judgment, Torts, Intentional Torts, False Imprisonment, Procedural Matters, Rulings on Evidence, Reviewability, Waiver, Admission of Evidence, Preservation for Review, Failure to Object, Impeachment, Convictions & Other Criminal Process, Testimony, Credibility of Witnesses, Bad Character for Truthfulness, Specific Instances, Substantial Evidence, Remedies, Damages, Punitive Damages, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection, Compensatory Damages, Punitive Damages, Measurement of Damages, Constitutional Requirements, Remedies, Affirmative Action, Discrimination, Types of Damages, Discovery, Methods of Discovery, Summary Judgment Review, Standards of Review, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Supporting Materials, Discovery Materials, Types of Contracts, Federal & State Interrelationships, Federal Common Law, Beneficiaries, Types of Third Party Beneficiaries, Incidental Beneficiaries, Preliminary Considerations, Third Parties, Intended Beneficiaries, Costs & Attorney Fees, Statutory Attorney Fee Awards, Title VII Discrimination, Costs & Attorney Fees