Supreme court held that it was error to refuse to apply a rule of federal law retroactively after the case announcing the rule had already done so. The Court stated that the rule of law in force at the time a decision is rendered is the rule of law to be applied. Furthermore, the Court stated that this practice is "overwhelmingly the norm, and is in keeping with the traditional function of the courts to decide cases before them based upon their current understanding of the law" (Beam supra at p. 2443).
Although the issue before the Court is a matter of statutory interpretation in the first instance, and Beam is directly applicable to the question of the retroactive application of law by judicial decision, even as applied to the instant matter, Beam militates in favor of retroactive application of the Civil Rights Act of 1991.
Moreover, the Supreme Court in Lampf, Pleva, Lipkind Prupis & Petigrow v. Gilbertson, 115 L. Ed. 2d 321, 111 S. Ct. 2773 (1991), a decision rendered the same day as Beam, applied retroactively a statute of limitations rule regarding claims brought under section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 of the securities laws.
Contrary to the defendant's arguments, the Beam and Lampf decisions are the Supreme Court's most recent pronouncements on the issue of retroactivity. These cases demonstrate the current Supreme Court's preference for the retroactive application of a new rule of law (see Hirschfeld v. Total Health Systems, Inc., 775 F. Supp. 574, [E.D.N.Y. 1991]).
Based on the reported cases in the Second circuit, the Court concludes that the Bradley case continues to provide the controlling analysis in this case.
Furthermore, the Court finds that the legislative history reveals divided political posturing so that there is no clear congressional intent as to the effective date of the Act. As a result of the inconclusive legislative history, and the fact that the language of the Act is subject to varying interpretations, in this Court's view, the Bradley analysis should be applied to determine if "manifest injustice" results from the retroactive application of the Act.
This Court concurs with the analysis of the Southern District in F.D.I.C. v. Engel, supra, the Northern District Court of Illinois' decision in Mojica v. Gannett Co., Inc., supra, and the Northern District of California's decision in Stendler v. Lucky Stores, Inc., supra, and concludes that the defendant has failed to demonstrate "manifest injustice" precluding application of the Act to this case. The defendant's natural reluctance to defend against charges of sexual discrimination before a jury and to face a potential award of compensatory damages simply does not outweigh the public interest which is advanced by the terms of the Act.
Further, based on the analysis in General Electric v. Gilbert, 429 U.S. 125, 140-145, 97 S. Ct. 401, 50 L. Ed. 2d 343 (1976) the Court concludes that while the EEOC policy guideline is entitled to some deference in construing the Act, it is not binding on this Court.
Accordingly, for the reasons set forth above, the Court grants the motion of the plaintiff Phyllis Croce to serve and file the proposed amended complaint, adding the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1991. This case is referred back to the assigned Magistrate Judge to provide any additional discovery by the parties required by this amendment.
Dated: Uniondale, New York
March 21, 1992
Arthur D. Spatt
United States District Judge
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