motion for judgment as a matter of law on plaintiff's salary claim.
III. Mental Anguish Damages
Because plaintiff failed to prove that he suffered discrimination on either his termination or disparate compensation claims, an award of damages for mental distress caused by such discrimination must also be set aside. Furthermore, even had the court found sufficient evidence in the record for plaintiff to defeat defendant's motion, there is insufficient evidence in the record to support the jury's award of mental anguish damages. To begin with, Mr. Dessie's claim for mental anguish was limited, both in his pleadings and in the evidence he offered at trial, to his termination claim. Because the jury found that Generale Bank did not discriminate against Mr. Dessie in connection with his termination, it could not have found for him on his claim for mental anguish damages. In addition, even though the jury decided in Mr. Dessie's favor on his salary claim, Mr. Dessie offered no evidence of any mental anguish he suffered in conjunction with that claim. Therefore, even if defendants had not prevailed on their motion to set aside the jury's award of back pay, Mr. Dessie's award for mental distress could not be allowed to stand.
Mr. Dessie argues that even though his testimony about the mental distress he suffered was made in the context of his termination claim, a fair reading of the testimony also supports the inference that the mental anguish he suffered related to the disparate treatment he received in terms of salary and other benefits. Pl. Mem. in Opp. at 27. The court has reviewed the testimony, however, and cannot agree with plaintiff's interpretation of the evidence.
Plaintiff also directs the court to various parts of the transcript which he claims amply support an award of mental distress damages for his salary claim and which could explain the jury's award. Pl. Mem. in Opp. at 28. However, the court disagrees with plaintiff's characterization of the evidence and concludes that a jury award of mental distress damages based on these superficial and truncated references to plaintiff's emotional state would have to be based on sheer speculation and conjecture.
Finally, even were the court to apply all of plaintiff's mental anguish testimony relating to his termination to his salary claim, such scant testimony by a plaintiff cannot support a claim for mental anguish damages under New York law. See Cosmos Forms, Ltd. v. State Div. of Human Rights, 150 A.D.2d 442, 442, 541 N.Y.S.2d 50, 51 (App. Div. 1989) (award of $ 35,000 for mental anguish was grossly excessive where only evidence of mental anguish was complainant's own testimony that she was "emotionally and physically screwed up," without any evidence of duration of her condition, its severity, or consequences and without evidence of any treatment); Trans World Airlines, Inc. v. New York Executive Dept, State Div. of Human Rights, 147 A.D.2d 575, 576, 537 N.Y.S.2d 868, 870 (App. Div. 1989) (testimony of complainant that he was "depressed" did not constitute substantial evidence that he suffered mental anguish). Accordingly, the court concludes that defendant should be granted judgment as a matter of law on Mr. Dessie's claim for damages for mental anguish.
For the reasons stated above, it is hereby ordered that defendant Generale Bank be granted judgment as a matter of law on plaintiff Alazar Dessie's claim for relief for discriminatory treatment in the determination of his salary, for which the jury awarded $ 200,000, and on plaintiff Alazar Dessie's claim for damages for mental anguish, for which the jury awarded $ 40,000. It is further ordered that the judgment entered December 31, 1991 is set aside and that the clerk will enter judgment in favor of the defendant Generale Bank.
Dated: New York, New York
August 20, 1992
CHARLES H. TENNEY, U.S.D.J.