Fed.R.Civ.P. 52(b), 59(e), and 60(a). See Tribal Plaintiffs' Amended
Notice of Motion at 2, ¶ (b).
There are two components to the tribal plaintiffs' request for
additional prejudgment interest. First, they are seeking such interest on
the jury's $35 million dollar award for the fair market value of the
claim area. Prejudgment interest on that award should include the time
frame from February 27, 2000, the verdict date, through October 2, 2001,
the entry date of the judgment. The tribal plaintiffs are proposing two
different rates for that interest — "either at the post-judgment
rate applicable to judgments entered at that time of 6.278%, or at the
rate of 5.54% testified to by Dr. Berkman, compounded annually[.]" Id.
(emphasis added). The tribal plaintiffs are also attempting to recover
additional prejudgment interest "upon the jury's rental award of
$1,911,672.62 and the Court award of $211,000,326.80 of prejudgment
interest thereon through June 30, 2000, calculated from June 30, 2000 to
October 2, 2001." Id. The tribal plaintiffs are seeking additional
prejudgment interest commencing on June 30, 2000, because in Cayuga XVI,
the court adopted, with some modifications, the prejudgment interest
calculations of the U.S.' economic expert, Dr. Berkman, but he only
calculated such interest through June 30, 2000. According to the tribal
plaintiffs, and in keeping with the formula employed by this court in
Cayuga XVI of reducing Dr. Berkman's calculations by 60%, such interest
should be awarded "at the rate of 5.54%, compounded annually and reduced
by sixty (60%) percent[.]" Id.
Putting aside for the moment the issue of whether the tribal plaintiffs
have any legal basis for their request for additional prejudgment
interest, the court cannot overlook the practical implications of same.
As has been the case since the prejudgment interest issue first arose in
this case, the figures are not inconsequential. For instance, applying
"Dr. Berkman's year 2000 rate of 5.54% compounded to the accrued rent
principal and interest from July 2, 2000 to October 2, 2001 and then
reduc[ing] that amount by 60%[,]" would result in additional prejudgment
interest for rent of approximately six million dollars. Roberts Affirm.
at 2, ¶ 5, and exh. D thereto. Calculating additional prejudgment
interest on the $35 million jury verdict "using the post-judgment
interest rate in effect on February 17, 2000, compounded annually[,]"
would result in interim interest on that sum of $3,648,630.19. Id. at 2,
¶ 6; and exh. E thereto. Using the post-judgment interest rate
calculated in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1961(a),*fn6 which the
State claims is 2.49% for the October 2, 2001 judgment, and reducing
that amount by 60% would yield $569,827.86 in additional prejudgment
interest on the $35 million jury verdict. See id. at 2, ¶ 6; and
exh. F thereto.
In no uncertain terms the State responds that "the court should adhere
to its prior ruling and refuse to amend the judgment to add approximately
ten million dollars in additional prejudgment interest." St. Oppn. Memo.
at 1. The court agrees with the State that the tribal plaintiffs'
backdoor attempt to obtain additional prejudgment interest —
interest the court has already refused to award — is completely
unfounded. Although not framed as a
motion for reconsideration, clearly that is what the tribal plaintiffs are
seeking; yet they have not identified any of the three grounds that form
the basis for such a motion in this district. See, e.g., Sumner v. McCall,
103 F. Supp.2d 555, 557 (N.D.N.Y. 2000) (internal quotation marks
and citations omitted) (emphasis added). ("Generally, the prevailing rule
in the Northern District recognizes only three possible grounds upon which
motions for reconsideration may be granted; they are (1) an intervening
change in controlling law, (2) the availability of new evidence not
previously available, or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or
prevent manifest injustice."). Moreover, in seeking interim prejudgment
interest on the jury's $35 million damage award for the current value of
the claim area, the tribal plaintiffs are conveniently overlooking the
fact, as the State is quick to point out, that prior to the Phase II
hearing regarding the issue of prejudgment interest, this court
"stress[ed] . . . that any [such] interest award would be confined to the
rental value damages award." See Cayuga Indian Nation of New York v.
Pataki, Nos. 80-CV-930 and 80-CV-960 (N.D.N.Y. April 18, 2000) at 6.
Finally, to the extent the tribal plaintiffs are maintaining that an
award of interim prejudgment interest is mandatory, otherwise they will
not have received full and just compensation, the court disagrees.
To support this argument, the tribal plaintiffs improperly rely upon
Magee v. U.S. Lines, Inc., 976 F.2d 821 (2d Cir. 1992). To be sure,
there, the Second Circuit did remand that case because the district court
denied plaintiff recovery of prejudgment interest, see id. at 823; but
that was a maritime claim, and as this court noted in Cayuga XVI, in the
maritime context "there is a `traditional hospitality to prejudgment
interest[.]'" See Cayuga XVI, 165 F. Supp.2d at 295 (quoting City of
Milwaukee v. Cement Div., Nat. Gypsum Co., 515 U.S. 189, 196, 115 S.Ct.
2091, 2096 (1995)). Thus, Magee does not in any way advance the tribal
plaintiffs' argument that an award of interim prejudgment interest is
mandatory in the present case.
Moreover, as with nearly all aspects of prejudgment interest, whether
to award the same for the interim period between a verdict and entry of
judgment lies within the court's sound discretion. See, e.g., United
States of America for the Benefit of Towerridge, Inc. v. T.A.O., Inc.,
No. Civ-95-42-BL, 1996 WL 924671, at *3 (W.D. Okla. June 11, 1996) ("The
court in its discretion and based on equitable considerations finds that
prejudgment interest should be awarded on the amount of the verdict
beginning on the 13th day of November, 1994, until the date of
judgment."). Here, the court declines to exercise that discretion to make
such an award. In its 100 page decision in Cayuga XVI, this court
thoroughly addressed the prejudgment interest issue and made what is
undeniably a substantial award of same to the tribal plaintiffs. Such
interest, in combination with the jury's verdict of $36,911,672.62 has
resulted in the tribal plaintiffs receiving full and just compensation
even without an award of interim prejudgment interest.
E. Exclusivity of Judgment
Inadvertently omitted from the October 2, 2001 judgment was any
reference to the U.S., as plaintiff-intervener on behalf of the tribal
plaintiffs. Evidently this omission prompted the State's motion pursuant
to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) to amend that judgment "to run solely, or at least
jointly, in favor of the [U.S.] as trustee for all successors-in-interest
of the historic Cayuga Indian Nation." St. Supp. Memo. at 26 (footnote
omitted) (emphasis added).*fn7 The State reasons that such an amendment
is necessary to ensure that "[t]he [U.S.,] either by itself or under
judicial supervision, will thereby be responsible for ensuring that any
judgment issued in this case is allocated appropriately among all tribes
that are descended from the historic Cayuga, including the plaintiffs and
any other such tribes that may have standing to sue under the
Nonintercourse Act. . . ." Id. at 26-27 (footnote omitted). The State
offers three separate reasons as to why the judgment should be amended.
From the State's perspective, through such an amendment "the Court will
ensure: (1) that all descendants of the historic Cayuga Indian Nation
share in the award in this case, which by its own terms provides full
compensation for the harm allegedly suffered by the Nation in 1795 and
1807; (2) that further judicial resources will not be unnecessarily
expended on this claim; and (3) that the State and other defendants will
not be subjected to the possibility of multiple liability for a single
harm to the Nation." Id. at 27.
Although it agrees that "the Court should amend the judgment to reflect
that the judgment runs jointly in favor of the [U.S.], the Cayuga Indian
Nation, and the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe," the U.S. specifically requests that
"the Court defer consideration of the State's suggestion that the
judgment run exclusively in favor of the [U.S.]" See U.S. Resp. at 1
(emphasis added). In a similar vein, the tribal plaintiffs do not object
to modification of the judgment to run jointly in their favor, as well as
in favor of the U.S., as trustee for the tribal plaintiffs. See Cay.
Oppn. Memo. at 13. The tribal plaintiffs do object, however, to amending
the judgment as the State suggests "for the potential benefit `of all
successors-in-interest of the historic Cayuga Indian Nation.'" Id. at 14
(quoting St. Supp. Memo. at 26). From the tribal plaintiffs' viewpoint,
such an amendment "would convert this from a judgment awarded to benefit
the two specific tribal plaintiffs to an open-ended class-action type
judgment fund that could be used to pay future damage awards to an
ill-defined class of non-parties and other strangers to this litigation."
Id. The court does not agree with this characterization of the State's
motion, but for the reasons set forth below it does agree with the U.S.
and the tribal plaintiffs that the proper way to proceed at this juncture
is to amend the October 2, 2001 judgment to reflect that the U.S., as
trustee for the tribal plaintiffs, is also a plaintiff-intervener in this
action and the judgment runs jointly in favor of the U.S. and those
plaintiffs. Basically Rule 60(a) allows a court to correct clerical errors
in a judgment "at any time of its own initiative or on the motion of any
party[.]" Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(a). As that Rule allows and because the parties
readily agree, as just indicated, the court will amend the October 2,
2001 judgment to reflect that that judgment runs jointly in favor of the
U.S. and the tribal plaintiffs.
To the extent that the State is seeking to amend that judgment to run
exclusively in favor of the U.S., however, the court denies the State's
motion. The U.S. identifies several persuasive reasons as to why at this
time the court should not hold that the judgment runs exclusively in
favor of the U.S. Perhaps most significant is the fact that "this issue
[of exclusivity] raises questions of both law and policy for the [U.S.]
and for the tribal plaintiffs, including, for example, whether the [U.S.]
the tribal plaintiffs should hold the principal jointly or exclusively,
how the principal should be allocated between the New York Cayuga, the
Seneca-Cayuga, and other potentially interested parties, and how the
principal should be invested and disbursed." U.S. Resp. at 27. The court
concurs with the U.S.' assessment of these important law and policy
concerns, which, if possible, should be resolved outside the litigation
The ramifications of such decision need to be
danalyzed by decision makers at the Interior and
Justice Departments, as well as by the tribal
plaintiffs. The Plaintiffs also need to come
together and consult with each other in the aim
of coming to a resolution that ideally would alleviate
any need for further court involvement in how
the money should be handled.
Id. To date, such discussions have not occurred, but the court places
great credence in the U.S.' representation that between now and the time
the judgment is actually executed, it "will work toward an agreement with
all the Plaintiffs that ideally would be presented jointly to the Court."
Id. In light of the foregoing, the court hereby grants the State's motion
to amend the judgment to provide that the judgment runs jointly in favor
of the plaintiff-intervener the U.S., as trustee, and the tribal
plaintiffs. The court denies the State's motion without prejudice to
renew, however, to the extent that the State is seeking to amend the
judgment to reflect that it runs exclusively in favor of the U.S.
II. New Trial
A. State Defendants' Motions
1. Vacate Judgment & JMOL
As Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b) permits, the State is renewing its motion for
judgment as a matter of law. Then, as now, the State is challenging the
opinion testimony of the U.S.' expert real estate appraiser, Arvel Hale,
contending that his "sales data were unreliable" and his "methodology
failed to meet the standards of Daubert and Kuhmo Tire[.]"*fn8 St.
Supp. Memo. at 3 and 8. Thus the State asserts that "the court should
enter judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b) and
dismiss plaintiffs' claim for damages and prejudgment interest against
the State defendants[.]" Id. at 1 (emphasis added). In other words, the
State is seeking to nullify both the jury verdict and this court's
subsequent prejudgment interest decision so that it will bear no
financial responsibility for violating the Nonintercourse Act in its
dealings with the Cayuga in 1795 and again in 1807.
This is not the first time the court has had before it challenges to
the reliability of Mr. Hale's sales data and to his methodology.
In fact, the State has previously made these arguments on three separate
occasions: (1) as part of its pre-Phase I motion in limine to preclude
Hale's testimony; (2) in connection with the seven day Daubert hearing;
and (3) as part of the State's motion for judgment as a matter of law
made at the close of all of the proof during Phase I. Each time the court
rejected the State's challenges. Following the Daubert hearing the court
found, among other things, that Hale's testimony was both "reliable and
relevant[,] . . . and w[ould] assist the jury in deciding the property
valuation issue[.]" See Cayuga XIII, 83 F. Supp.2d at 328. At the close
of the Phase I proof, the State again attacked Mr. Hale's testimony and
the court again rejected that attack, denying the State's Rule 50 motion
in that regard. See Transcript (Feb. 10, 2000) at 2310-29. There is
nothing in this renewed motion by the State which convinces the court at
this late date to alter its prior decisions.
Besides offering nothing more than a rehash of arguments, the court
hastens to add that the State's renewed Rule 50 motion improperly focuses
solely upon the proof presented through Hale, rather than upon the record
as a whole. See Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Products, Inc., 120 S.Ct.
2097, 2110 (2000) (emphasis added) ("[I]n entertaining a motion for
judgment as a matter of law, the court should review all of the evidence
in the record."). When the court, as it must, considers not just Mr.
Hale's testimony, but the record as a whole pertaining to property
valuation, it remains convinced that there is no basis for the State's
challenge to either his data or his methodology. The weaknesses in the
State's argument become all the more apparent taking into account the
"strict" standard which the State must satisfy before it would be
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Stubbs v. Dudley, 849 F.2d 83,
85 (2d Cir. 1988). "Judgment as a matter of law is proper under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 50 only if, 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." Caruso v. Forslund, 47 F.3d 27, 32 (2d Cir. 1995)
(emphasis added) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
Given the undeniably novel valuation issues presented by the damage
phases of this litigation, as the record makes abundantly clear, most
certainly this is not a case where "there c[ould] be but one conclusion
as to the verdict that reasonable [persons] could have reached." See id.
Indeed, again largely because of the unique property valuation issues
presented herein, there were a myriad of conclusions which reasonable
persons could have drawn from the Phase I record evidence. Moreover,
adopting the State's arguments regarding Hale's testimony would require
the court to make credibility determinations, weigh the evidence, or
both, and that is not a court's function on a Rule 50 motion such as the
present one. See Raniola v. Bratton, 243 F.3d 610, 616 (2d Cir. 2001).
Finally the court observes that "the Second Circuit espouses a
particularly broad standard for the admissibility of expert testimony[,]"
such that "after Daubert . . . rejection of expert testimony is the
exception rather than the rule." See Colon v. BIC USA, Inc., No. 00
CIV. 3666, 2001 WL 1631402, at *11 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 19, 2001) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted). Accordingly, as it has each and
every time it has been presented with the State's opposition to Mr.
Hale's testimony, the court rejects those arguments
and denies the State's motion for judgment as a matter of law based on
B. Alternative Relief