82. For the reasons set forth below (1) Defendants' motion for judgment as a matter of law is denied; (2) Defendants' motion for a new trial is denied; (3) Defendants' motion to alter or amend the jury's apportionment of costs is denied; (4) Gatti's motion for attorneys' fees and costs is granted as modified; and (5) Gatti's motion for pre-judgment and post-judgment interest is granted as modified.
1. Factual Summary
Community Action Agency of Greene County, Inc. located in Catskill, New York administered several programs, one of which was a federally funded Head Start Program. Another program administered by Community Action was the Day Care Center, which was independent of the Head Start Program. Adrienne Gatti, who was born on January 13, 1938, was first hired by Community Action on September 18, 1978. From this date until her termination in July 1998, Gatti held various positions. She was initially hired as an Executive Secretary but over the next twenty years she served as Personnel Director, Day Care Director, and Head Start Administrative Coordinator.
For most of her employment with Community Action, Gatti's primary supervisor was Iva Woodford, who was the director of the Head Start Program. Because Head Start is federally funded, this program had to be conducted in accordance with federal guidelines. Although Community Action was the grantee and received the money to operate this program, these applicable federal requirements directed that a parent community-based policy council work with Community Action to implement the major decisions affecting the Head Start Program. Those major decisions included hiring, firing, promotions, and preparing job descriptions and yearly budgets.
In 1996, Community Action hired Edward Daly as Executive Director of Community Action and empowered him with the mandate to revamp the agency's infrastructure and bring the Head Start Program into compliance with the federal guidelines. It is not certain when they occurred, but significant rifts developed between: the Policy Council and Community Action; members within the Policy Council; and Community Action and the Head Start Program's employees. There existed a huge divide among all with each pointing the finger at the other for the problems. Eventually all of these conflicts festered and became inextricably and irretrievably intertwined. The disturbing chasm between management and employees engulfed the Policy Council which exhibited fragmented loyalty to both. Some members of the Policy Council refused to vote on various issues. There were work stoppages and charges of a "lock out." The imbroglio became so caustic that at one juncture there were two independent Policy Councils attempting to manage this Head Start Program. Matters became so grave that the Department of Health and Human Services had to intervene into this fray. The funding for this Head Start Program was imperiled and ultimately, in 1998, federal funds were transferred from Community Action to a Warren-Washington County Agency to oversee the operations of this program. All of the Head Start employees were terminated but eventually most, if not all, were re-hired in 1999, except Gatti, once Warren-Washington County was prepared to operate the program. Gatti was offered a position within another Community Action program but for a reduction in her salary. Her employment with Community Action terminated in July 1998.
2. Procedural History
The Plaintiff brought this action on October 13, 1998, against Community Action and Edward Daly for violation of ADEA and NYHRL. Dkt. No. 1. Gatti complained that once Daly became Executive Director in 1996 until she was terminated in 1998, he conducted a severe and pervasive discriminatory campaign against her by, inter alia: (1) decreasing her salary as Administrative Coordinator; (2) attempting, then eventually, eliminating her position due to her age; (3) creating a hostile working environment due to her age; (4) frequently demeaning her, at times in the presence of others, about her age; (5) continually withdrawing, compromising or minimizing her duties and responsibilities as Administrator Coordinator; and (6) reducing her salary when others' salaries were not similarly reduced. Her theories of liability were discrimination premised upon age, retaliation, and a hostile working environment.*fn2 A Motion to Dismiss the Complaint was granted by District Judge Lawrence E. Kahn on February 7, 2000. Dkt. Nos. 11 & 12. However, on March 14, 2001, the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated the dismissal order and remanded in accordance with its order. Dkt. No. 16, slip op. dated Feb. 16, 2001. Within its order, the Second Circuit found that Gatti's Complaint was sufficient enough to overcome a FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6) motion. Id. On October 2, 2002, District Judge Lawrence E. Kahn signed an order referring the case on consent to this Magistrate Judge. Dkt. No. 35.
A jury trial commenced on October 25, 2002. Approximately a week later, on November 1, 2002, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Gatti in the amount of $181,761.00. The jury found against both Defendants on all of her causes of action and awarded her back and front pay in the amounts of $57,453.00 and $44,308.00 respectively, and further awarded her for past emotional distress and mental anguish in the amount of $80,000.00. Dkt. No. 57, Special Verdict Form.
Defendants assert six separate grounds in support of their motion to set aside the verdict or for a new trial: 1) An improper age-based hostile work environment charge was given to the jury; 2) Plaintiff's expert was improperly allowed to testify about opinions not contained within the disclosed report; 3) Plaintiff's expert generated a second report that was not disclosed prior to trial thereby prejudicing Defendants; 4) Plaintiff's expert's initial report should have been excluded as it was unrealistic and ignored pertinent facts; 5) the jury's pain and suffering award was unreasonably high; and 6) there was no legally sufficient evidentiary basis for the jury's verdict. Dkt. Nos. 69, 70, 72.
1. Standard of Law To Be Applied
(a) Judgment as a Matter of Law
According to FED. R. CIV. P. 50(a), a party must move for judgment as a matter of law prior to the submission of the case to the jury. See FED.R.CIV.P. 50(a)(2). If the motion is denied, it may be renewed within ten days after the entry of judgment. See FED.R.CIV.P. 50(b). Defendants complied with these requirements and therefore the motion is properly filed. Tr. at at 532-40.
A court may render a judgment as a matter of law when "a party has been fully heard on an issue and there is no legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to find for that party on that issue. . . ." FED. R. CIV. P. 50(a)(1); Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 149 (2000). The Second Circuit has established the standard for granting judgment as a matter of law wherein
the trial court cannot assess the weight of
conflicting evidence, pass on the credibility of the
witnesses, or substitute its judgment for that of the
jury. Rather, after viewing the evidence in a light
most favorable to the non-moving party (giving the
non-movant the benefit of all reasonable inferences),
the trial court should grant a judgement n.o.v. only
when (1) 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, or (2) there is such an overwhelming
amount of evidence in favor of the movant that
reasonable and fair minded men could not arrive at a
verdict against him.
Mattivi v. South African Marine Corp., "Huguenot", 618 F.2d 163, 167-68 (2d Cir. 1980) (cited in Dewing v. Orkin Exterminating Co., Inc., 897 F. Supp. 44, 46 (N.D.N.Y. 1995);*fn3 see also Samuels v. Air Transport Local 504, 992 F.2d 12, 14 (2d Cir. 1993); Mallis v. Bankers Trust Co., 717 F.2d 683, 688-89 (2d Cir. 1983). Thus, in ruling on such a motion, the essential steps for the trial court is to "consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the party against whom the motion was made and to give that party the benefit of all reasonable inferences that the jury might have drawn in his favor from the evidence." Tolbert v. Queens Coll., 242 F.3d 58, 70 (2d Cir. 2001) (cited in Shannon v. Fireman's Fund Ins. Co, 156 F. Supp.2d 279, 287 (S.D.N.Y. 2001).
(b) Motion for a New Trial
A less stringent standard applies to motions for a new trial pursuant to Rule 59(a). "A trial court should grant such a motion when convinced that the jury has reached a seriously erroneous result or the verdict is a miscarriage of justice." Katara v. D.E. Jones Commodities, Inc., 835 F.2d 966, 970 (2d Cir. 1987) (cited in Dewing v. Orkin Exterminating Co., Inc., 897 F. Supp. at 47). A trial judge's disagreement with the jury verdict is an insufficient basis for granting a new trial. Mallis v. Bankers Trust Co., 717 F.2d at 688-89. The Second Circuit has articulated the standard as follows:
The trial judge, exercising a mature judicial
discretion, should view the verdict in the overall
setting of the trial; consider the character of the
evidence and the complexity or simplicity of the legal
principles which the jury was bound to apply to the
facts; and abstain from interfering with the verdict
unless it is quite clear that the jury has reached a
seriously erroneous result. The judge's
duty is essentially to see that there is no
miscarriage of justice. If convinced that there has
been then it is his duty to set the verdict aside;