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WATERSON v. PLANK ROAD MOTEL CORP.

April 9, 1999

SUZANNE R. WATERSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PLANK ROAD MOTEL CORP., D/B/A BEST WESTERN CLIFTON PARK, A/K/A BEST WESTERN INN; CHRISTOPHER PATHEMOS; ADAM WILLIAMS; AND MICHAEL P. VERDILE, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hurd, United States Magistrate Judge.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff, Suzanne Waterson ("Waterson" or "plaintiff"), was an employee of Best Western Inn in the housekeeping department. Plaintiff alleges that she was subjected to sexual harassment while employed, and was terminated on March 4, 1991 under false pretenses and pursuant to a discriminatory purpose. Waterson filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights ("DHR") on March 11, 1991. Waterson then commenced the instant action on October 4, 1996.

Defendants have made a motion in limine to

  1. Bar any testimony or evidence on the issue of
    compensatory and/or punitive damages; and
  2. Restrict the testimony of Anne Marie Malinowski
    ("Malinowski"), another former employee at the Best
    Western Inn.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Compensatory and Punitive Damages

Plaintiff is complaining of acts which occurred up to and including the date of her termination on March 4, 1991. At the time of these alleged acts, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title VII") did not afford a plaintiff the right to a trial by jury or to seek compensatory or punitive damages. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(g) (1988). The Civil Rights Act of 1991, which became effective on November 21, 1991, amended Title VII to allow claimants to have a trial by jury as well as to seek compensatory and punitive damages. 42 U.S.C. § 1981a(a)(1), (c) (1994).

Defendants argue that, since the acts of sexual harassment alleged by Waterson occurred before the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, and the new remedies provided by the statute are not retroactive, Waterson is not entitled to compensatory or punitive damages and therefore should not be allowed to present evidence concerning such damages. Defendants also argue that plaintiff may have been able to seek compensatory damages pursuant to her state law claim, but she waived that right by terminating her complaint with the state DHR.

1. Retroactivity of the Civil Rights Act of 1991

Plaintiff's argument that the Civil Rights Act of 1991 is not applied retroactively only as to cases which were pending on appeal at the time the statute was enacted is without merit. It is well settled that the new remedial provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 do not apply to conduct occurring before the enactment of the statute, not merely cases pending on appeal when the statute was enacted. See Landgraf v. USI Film Prods., 511 U.S. 244, 114 S.Ct. 1483, 128 L.Ed.2d 229 (1994); Postema v. National League of Prof'l Baseball Clubs, 998 F.2d 60, 61-62 (2d Cir. 1993); Wisdom v. Intrepid Sea-Air Space Museum, 993 F.2d 5, 7 (2d Cir. 1993); Fair Employment Council v. BMC Mktg. Corp., 28 F.3d 1268 (D.C.Cir. 1994); Amin v. Quad/Graphics, Inc., 929 F. Supp. 73 (N.D.N.Y. 1996); Talada v. International Serv. Sys., Inc., 899 F. Supp. 936 (N.D.N.Y. 1995). The alleged conduct of which Waterson is complaining ...


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