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Cappiello v. ICD Publications, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

June 18, 2013

Robert N. Cappiello, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
ICD Publications, Inc., Defendant-Appellee, David Palcek, Defendant.

Argued: April 25, 2013

Appellant secured a judgment in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Arthur D. Spatt, J.). After the judgment was affirmed on appeal, the district court amended it to state that appellant was entitled to post-judgment interest at the rate set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1961. The district court rejected plaintiff's argument that he was entitled to post-judgment interest at the rate provided for in New York C.P.L.R. § 5004. We hold that the district court correctly, and constitutionally, applied § 1961, notwithstanding that the judgment had been entered in a diversity action and had been docketed by appellant in a New York state court.

Danielé D. De Voe, Weinstein, Kaplan & Cohen, P.C., Garden City, N.Y., for Appellant.

Don R. Sampen (Christopher T. Scanlon, Monet H. Duval, on the brief), Clausen Miller, P.C., Chicago, IL, for Appellee.

Before: Winter, Calabresi, and Lynch, Circuit Judges.

Gerard E. Lynch, Circuit Judge:

On August 20, 2010, Robert N. Cappiello secured a judgment in the amount of $600, 510.15 against ICD Publications, Inc. ("ICD") in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Arthur D. Spatt, J.). The judgment was affirmed by this Court on January 23, 2012. By order dated June 7, 2012, the district court amended the judgment to provide that Cappiello was entitled to post-judgment interest at the rate set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1961. Cappiello appeals that June 7, 2012 order, contending that he is entitled to post-judgment interest at the rate set forth in § 5004 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules ("C.P.L.R."). We disagree and therefore affirm the district court's order.

BACKGROUND

Cappiello was employed by ICD until he was fired on January 31, 2008. Cappiello then filed this lawsuit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, asserting claims for breach of contract against ICD and for tortious interference with contract against ICD's president, David Palcek. The defendants removed the action to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441 and 1332. Cappiello prevailed on his claim against ICD, and the district court entered judgment on August 20, 2010, awarding him $532, 587.06 in damages plus $67, 923.09 in pre-judgment interest for a total award of $600, 510.15. ICD timely appealed that judgment

On November 1, 2010, while the appeal was pending, Cappiello filed a copy of the judgment with the Clerk of the Suffolk County Supreme Court in accordance with C.P.L.R. § 5018(b).[1] The following day, Cappiello delivered a property execution to the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office, directing it to levy against ICD's assets in that county. However, on December 2, 2010, upon ICD's posting of a supersedeas bond, the district court stayed execution of the judgment under Rule 62(d) pending appeal.

On January 23, 2012, this Court affirmed the district court's August 20, 2010 judgment. Accordingly, on February 28, 2012, ICD tendered payment of the judgment, including post-judgment interest at the rate of .25%, which was calculated in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1961.[2] Cappiello rejected the payment on the ground that ICD was required to pay the 9% New York post-judgment interest rate set out in C.P.L.R. §§ 5003 and 5004.[3] On March 7, 2012, ICD moved in the district court under Rule 60(b)(5) for a declaration that its February 28 tender fully satisfied the August 20, 2010 judgment.

While ICD's motion was pending, Cappiello renewed his efforts to collect on the judgment by means other than accepting ICD's offer of payment. On March 15, 2012, Cappiello informed ICD's bonding agency that he had registered the district court's August 20, 2010 judgment in the state supreme court, that the judgment would "not be satisfied unless and until both the New York State and the Eastern District of New York judgments have been satisfied, " and that in order to satisfy what Cappiello thus identified as two separate judgments, the agency was required to pay the judgment amount plus interest at the state rate of 9%. In light of Cappiello's letter, ICD moved on April 18, 2012 for a stay of execution pending resolution of ICD's Rule 60 motion. Cappiello opposed the motion and continued his collection efforts. In May and June, he contacted ICD's bank, first with a subpoena and a "restraining notice, " and then with a letter demanding a response and threatening legal action. At no time, however, did Cappiello commence an enforcement action in state court asking for judicial relief of any kind.

The district court ruled on ICD's motions on June 7, 2012. It construed the Rule 60(b)(5) motion as a motion to clarify the judgment under Rule 60(a), which it granted, and it denied the motion for a stay as moot. Specifically, the court amended the August 20, 2010 judgment to specify that Cappiello was entitled to post-judgment interest calculated in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1961. The court rejected Cappiello's argument that he was entitled to New York's 9% interest rate. It observed that the judgment was a federal judgment notwithstanding its having been filed in state court, and held that the judgment was therefore governed by the "plain language" of § 1961, which "applies to 'any money judgment in a civil case recovered in a district court.'" Cappi ...


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