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ALTMAN v. PORT AUTH. OF NEW YORK & NEW JERSEY

March 6, 1995

STANLEY ALTMAN, Plaintiff, against THE PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY, Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: DENNY CHIN

 CHIN, D.J.

 On October 13, 1994, following an eight-day trial in this employment discrimination and retaliation case, the jury returned a verdict in favor of defendant The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (the "Port Authority") on the claims of discrimination and in favor of plaintiff Stanley Altman ("Altman") on the claims of retaliation. The jury awarded Altman $ 15,000 in damages for lost wages, and found that the Port Authority's retaliatory actions were wilful.

 Before the Court are the Port Authority's motion for judgment as a matter of law or for a new trial on the issue of liability and Altman's cross-motion for additional damages, prejudgment interest, and attorneys' fees and costs.

 Summary of the Facts

 Altman is a 69-year old man who was employed by the Port Authority from March 1980 through his retirement on June 6, 1992. Beginning in the mid-1980's, he unsuccessfully applied for a number of positions within the Port Authority.

 In July 1987, Altman told his then-supervisor, John Davison, that he believed he was being denied promotions at the Port Authority because of his age. *fn1" In June 1988, Altman filed a charge of age discrimination with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the "EEOC"). *fn2"

 Although Altman had received eight salary increases from the commencement of his employment in 1980 through 1987, he received no salary increases from 1988 through his retirement in 1992. Moreover, after he was placed in the Environmental Programs unit in 1990, he was given certain tasks to perform that were inappropriate for an employee at his level.

 Altman commenced this action in 1987 alleging age discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C. ยง 621 et seq. (the "ADEA"). Although Altman initially alleged discrimination with respect to ten positions for which he had applied, the trial was limited to three positions and Altman's claim of retaliation. The jury found in favor of the Port Authority on the discrimination claims and in favor of Altman on his retaliation claim.

 These motions followed.

 Discussion

 A. The Port Authority's Motion

 A jury verdict is not to be set aside and judgment entered as a matter of law pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(b) unless "'the evidence is such that, 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 [jurors] could have reached.'" Samuels v. Air Transport Local 504, 992 F.2d 12, 14 (2d Cir. 1993) (quoting Simblest v. Maynard, 427 F.2d 1, 4 (2d Cir. 1970)). In considering a Rule 50(b) motion, a trial court "must view the evidence in a light most favorable to the non-movant and grant that party every reasonable inference that the jury might have drawn in its favor." Samuels, 992 F.2d at 16. Judgment notwithstanding the verdict is to be entered only where there is such a "complete absence of evidence supporting the verdict that the jury's findings could only have been the result of sheer surmise and conjecture." Mattivi v. South American Marine Corp., 618 F.2d 163, 168 (2d Cir. 1980); accord Cruz v. Local Union No. 3, 34 F.3d 1148, 1154 (2d Cir. 1994).

 A motion for a new trial pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 59 may not be granted on the basis of the weight of the evidence unless the jury's verdict is "seriously erroneous." Piesco v. Koch, 12 F.3d 332, 344-45 (2d Cir. 1993). A trial court may refrain from setting aside a verdict and ordering a new trial "where the resolution of the issues depended on assessment of the credibility of the witnesses." Metromedia Co. ...


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