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FAISAL G. KHALAF, PH.D.
Plaintiff-Appellant/Cross-Appellee,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY; BENNIE FOWLER; JAY ZHOU,
Defendants-Appellees/Cross-Appellants.
   Nos. 19-1435/1468
Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Eastern District of Michigan at Detroit.
No. 2:15-cv-12604—Marianne O. Battani, District Judge.
Argued: May 6, 2020
Decided and Filed: August 31, 2020
Before: GUY, THAPAR, and BUSH, Circuit Judges.


_________________________
OPINION
_________________________

JOHN K. BUSH, Circuit Judge. This appeal involves claims of national origin discrimination in violation of Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., and Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA), Mich. Comp. Laws 37.2101 et seq., and racial discrimination and retaliation in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The claims were brought by Faisal G. Khalaf, Ph.D., who is of Lebanese descent, against Ford Motor Company, his former employer, and Bennie Fowler and Jay Zhou, his former supervisors at Ford. Specifically, Dr. Khalaf contends that, he was subjected to a hostile work environment because of his race or national origin, and that defendants illegally retaliated against him, after he engaged in protected activities, by demoting him, placing him on a “Performance Enhancement Plan” (PEP), and ultimately terminating his employment.

The jury found that (1) Dr. Khalaf was neither demoted nor terminated by Ford because of his race or national origin; (2) neither Ford as a corporate entity nor Zhou subjected him to a hostile work environment, but Dr. Khalaf’s subordinates at Ford had done so (based on national origin or race), and so had Fowler (based on national origin, but not race); and (3) Dr. Khalaf was subjected to retaliatory demotion by Ford and Fowler, retaliatory placement on a PEP by Zhou, and retaliatory termination by Ford alone, but was not subjected to retaliatory placement on a PEP by Fowler or Ford or retaliatory termination by Fowler or Zhou.

For the collective actions of all defendants, the jury awarded Dr. Khalaf $1.7 million in pension and retirement losses and $100,000 in emotional-distress damages. For the actions of Ford only, the jury awarded Dr. Khalaf $15 million in punitive damages. The district court granted Ford’s motion for remittitur of punitive damages but denied all of defendants’ other postverdict motions, including motions for judgment as a matter of law under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(b). As to remittitur, the district court determined, in light of all of the evidence, that the exemplary damages imposed on Ford were “so excessive as to shock the conscience” and violated due process. Therefore, the court reduced the punitive damages award to $300,000.

For the reasons outlined below, we hold that the district court erred in denying defendants’ motions for judgment as a matter of law. Accordingly, we REVERSE and direct the district court to enter judgment in favor of defendants. Based on this holding, we need not address remittitur.



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DAVINA HURT and DOMINIC HILL, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated,
Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
COMMERCE ENERGY, INC., doing business as Just Energy doing business as Commerce Energy of Ohio, Inc.; JUST ENERGY MARKETING CORP.; JUST ENERGY GROUP, INC.,
Defendants-Appellants.
   No. 18-4058
Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Northern District of Ohio at Cleveland.
No. 1:12-cv-00758—James S. Gwin, District Judge.
Argued: October 24, 2019
Decided and Filed: August 31, 2020
Before: CLAY, STRANCH, MURPHY, Circuit Judges.


_________________________
OPINION
_________________________

JANE B. STRANCH, Circuit Judge. The Fair Labor Standards Act provides minimum wage and overtime protections to a broad range of employees. Davina Hurt and Dominic Hill brought claims for themselves and others alleging that their positions are covered by the protections of the FLSA and parallel provisions of Ohio law. They challenge their designation by Defendants as “outside salesman,” a category that is “exempt” from the FLSA, which means that their position is not covered by the protections of the Act. A trial was held and the jury found that Plaintiffs were not exempt outside salespeople. Just Energy appeals that determination and challenges pre- and post-trial rulings made by the district court, certain instructions given to the jury, and evidentiary rulings made by the court. For the reasons explained below, we AFFIRM.



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JAMES C. DIMORA,
Petitioner-Appellant,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Respondent-Appellee.
   No. 18-4260
Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Northern District of Ohio at Cleveland.
Nos. 1:10-cr-00387-1; 1:17-cv-01288—Sara E. Lioi, District Judge.
Argued: April 16, 2020
Decided and Filed: August 31, 2020
Before: MERRITT, THAPAR, and LARSEN, Circuit Judges.


_________________________
OPINION
_________________________

PER CURIAM. In 2012, a federal jury convicted James Dimora of numerous bribery-related offenses committed during his tenure on the Board of County Commissioners for Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Four years later, in McDonnell v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2355 (2016), the Supreme Court gave a narrow construction to a key element included within several of those offenses. Dimora then petitioned to vacate his convictions under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, arguing that the jury instructions used at his trial were faulty in light of McDonnell. The district court denied relief. For the reasons that follow, we VACATE the district court’s order, DENY Dimora’s request to expand the scope of the Certificate of Appealability, and REMAND for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.