Do not grant a JNOV in disguise.

disguiseHilda Garza sued Starr County for wrongfully discharging her as a county attorney, in retaliation for announcing her candidacy for the local school board, and she won a $1.4 million verdict for front pay at trial.  The district court set aside the verdict as advisory, reasoning that it went to an issue of equitable relief, and allowed the County to offer her reinstatement as an alternative remedy.  The Fifth Circuit reversed.  While Fed. R. Civ. P. 39(c) allows an advisory jury, it does not apply when: (1) the parties voluntarily submit an issue to a jury without formal objection, and (2) the district court does not announce in advance that the verdict is advisory.  Garza v. Starr County, Texas, No. 14-41343 (Oct. 20, 2015, unpublished) (citing, inter aliaAlcatel USA, Inc. v. DGI Techs., Inc., 166 F.3d 772 (5th Cir. 1999)).  (The County also challenged the award as excessive; while noting that the “more prudent course” would have been for the County to cross-appeal, the Court allowed the County to raise that issue on remand — although noting that the County’s lack of earlier objections would limit what it could raise.)

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