the case against the Village of Airmont in its action also leads us to conclude that there was no possible basis for the jury's verdict against the Village. Plaintiff Park Avenue Synagogue, Inc. had obtained zoning approval for its services and operations before this action was commenced. The Village took no steps whatever to impede their religious worship.
The only thing the plaintiffs can point to as an act of the Village was the adoption of the zoning code in January of 1993, almost two years after the commencement of this action. The adoption of the zoning code did not result in any amendment to the complaint of this action. Furthermore, no action has been taken as to the plaintiffs (or any other synagogue) under the newly adopted code. These plaintiffs, like the Government, argue that the Airmont zoning code, while quite similar to the pre-existing Town of Ramapo code, had a couple of changes in it which suggest a likelihood that, if the issue comes before them, the Airmont Planning Board and Zoning Board would not adopt the Ramapo solution with respect to home synagogues (known as "shteebles").
Even if this proves to be the case, it can have no impact on these plaintiffs, who have already gotten their zoning permission and who would be, at worst, a non-conforming use under the new zoning law.
The plaintiffs also argue that the existence of the Village has a "chilling effect" on their protected class. However, 33 new Orthodox Jewish families moved in to the Park Avenue area, following the formation and operation of the Village. Consequently, we can see no basis in fact or law for the jury's verdict.
The trial court has the right to enter a judgment overturning a jury's verdict. Berry v. U.S., 312 U.S. 450, 85 L. Ed. 945, 61 S. Ct. 637 (1941). Indeed, where reasonable minds cannot differ as to the facts a motion for judgment as a matter of law must be granted. Pratt v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., 952 F.2d 667 (2nd Cir. 1992). The plaintiffs claim that the court cannot exercise this power since it has previously denied such a motion and that denial is the law of the case. This court did not deny such a motion. We reserved on the motions at the conclusion of evidence. Following the jury's verdict, we indicated that there did not appear to be any need to set aside the jury's verdict since no injunctive relief would be granted, but we stated that if we were compelled to enter some form of relief we would alternatively grant the Rule 50 application on which we were reserving decision. Thereafter, the plaintiffs tendered a proposed judgment calling for them to receive $ 1 in nominal damages, which might also have entitled them to attorney's fees. The court instead entered a judgment reciting the verdict as returned by the jury without injunctive relief or the nominal damages.
We thought at that time that, subject to appeal, the verdict could be left as it was. However, the plaintiffs applied for a substantial amount of costs against the Village, which were awarded in part. (The Village moves to review those costs in the approximate amount of $ 13,000 but in view of the decision here, no costs can be assessed against the Village.) Under these circumstances, we must address the motion for judgment as a matter of law on which we have previously reserved decision and, as indicated, we believe it must be granted since, "without weighing the credibility of the witnesses or otherwise considering the weight of the evidence, there can be but one conclusion as to the verdict that reasonable [persons] could have reached." Simblest v. Maynard, 427 F.2d 1, 4 (2d Cir. 1970).
It is ordered that judgment be entered for The Village of Airmont as a matter of law and the costs assessed withdrawn.
Dated: White Plains, N.Y.
March 16, 1994
GERARD L. GOETTEL