United States District Court, E.D. New York
Plaintiff is proceeding pro se.
Defendants are represented by Andrew Reginald Scott and Sondra Meryl Toscano of the Nassau County Attorney's Office, N.Y.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
JOSEPH F. BIANCO, District Judge.
Pro se plaintiff Anthony Conte ("plaintiff or "Conte") filed the instant action against the County of Nassau ("the County"), Robert Emmons ("Emmons"), Philip Wasilausky ("Wasilausky"), William Wallace ("Wallace"), Christina Sardo ("Sardo"), Michael Falzarano ("Falzarano") (collectively, the "County defendants"), Tefta Shaska ("Shaska"), and Larry Guerra ("Guerra") (collectively, "defendants"), alleging federal claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for false arrest, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, violation of the First Amendment, conspiracy, and Monell liability against the County. Plaintiff also asserted various state-law claims. After discovery, both parties moved for summary judgment. By Memorandum and Order of the Court dated September 30, 2010, the following claims survived summary judgment: (1) plaintiff's false arrest claim against Wasilausky; (2) plaintiff's abuse of process claim against all of the County defendants except Sardo; (3) plaintiff's Monell claim against the County; and (4) plaintiff's tortious interference with contract claim against all of the County defendants except Sardo and Shaska.
The matter was then tried before a jury, which found that (1) Wasilausky subjected plaintiff to an unlawful arrest; (2) none of the County defendants maliciously abused process in connection with plaintiff's arrest on a bad check charge or in connection with the issuance of Grand Jury subpoenas; and (3) Emmons, Wallace, and Falzarano tortiously interfered with plaintiff's contractual relationships. With respect to damages, the jury awarded $500.00 in compensatory damages and $26, 000.00 in punitive damages against Wasilausky in connection with plaintiff's false arrest claim. As to plaintiff's tortious interference with contract claim, the jury awarded plaintiff $3, 500.00 in compensatory damages for tortious acts which took place before June 1, 2005, and $700, 000.00 in compensatory damages for tortious acts which took place on or after June 1, 2005. The jury also awarded punitive damages in connection with plaintiff's tortious interference with contract claim: $60, 000.00 against Emmons; $443, 000.00 against Wallace; and $175, 000.00 against Falzarano.
After the trial, defendants Wasilausky, Wallace, Emmons, and Falzarano moved for judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(b) on various grounds. The County defendants al so moved for a new trial under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59. Plaintiff also moved under Rule 59 for a new trial on damages, arguing that the Court improperly denied him the opportunity to present to the jury certain evidence of damages associated with the tortious interference with contract claim.
By Memorandum and Order dated July 26, 2013, this Court granted the County defendants' Rule 50(b) motion - finding that Wasilausky was entitled to judgment as a matter of law on plaintiff's false arrest claim and Emmons, Falzarano, and Wallace were entitled to judgment as a matter of law on plaintiff's tortious interference with contract claim. Because the Court vacated the jury's verdict with respect to the tortious interference with contract claim and the false arrest claim, the Court denied both plaintiff and the County defendants' Rule 59 motions for new trials as moot.
On appeal to the Second Circuit, plaintiff argued that this Court erred by dismissing his state law claims against the City of New York; dismissing on summary judgment his defamation, injurious falsehoods, and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims against Wasilausky, Emmons, Wallace, Falzarano, and Shashka; dismissing his First Amendment claims against the County defendants on summary judgment; granting the defendants' post-judgment motions as a matter of law on his tortious interference with contract claims against Wallace, Emmons, and Falzarano; and denying his Rule 59 motion for a new damages trial.
On December 17, 2014, the Second Circuit vacated this Court's rulings granting judgment as a matter of law in favor of Wallace, Emmons, and Falzarano on Conte's claims for tortious interference with contractual relations, and remanded for consideration of plaintiffs Rule 59 motion for a new trial on damages on the claim. The Second Circuit affirmed this Court's rulings in all other respects
Presently before this Court on remand from the Second Circuit is plaintiff's Rule 59 motion for a new trial on damages related to the tortious interference with contract claims. For the reasons that follow, the Court denies plaintiff's motion for a new trial on damages.
The Court detailed the factual background and procedural history of this case in the Memorandum and Order issued on July 26, 2013, and does not repeat those facts here. Conte v. County of Nassau, No. 06-CV-4746 (JFB) (ETB), 2013 WL 3878738, at *2-9 (E.D.N.Y. 2013). For the analysis of the specific issues raised by the present motion, the following background information is relevant.
A jury trial was held (and proceeded in two phases, Liability and damages) before this Court, beginning on May 21, 2012, and concluding on June 11, 2012. On May 23, 2012, the County defendants filed an in limine motion to preclude plaintiff from offering expert valuation evidence at trial. (ECF No. 564.) Plaintiff requested permission for his expert, Barry L. Pulchinof the Metis Group, to testify and present a report estimating the loss Conte alleges he suffered as a result of the actions of the County defendants. ( See Pl.'s Letter dated Dec. 15, 2009, ECF No. 392 (attaching report created by plaintiff's business valuation and loss expert).) The report provides estimated valuation data regarding I Media, including projected revenue, and estimates I Media's projected lost earnings resulting from the allegations listed in Conte's Second Amended Complaint at $549, 000, 000. (Id. ) Mr. Conte argued that the expert's estimated valuation of I Media was necessary to establish the full amount of damages required to "restart and rebuild [his] business." (Tr. 175.) Plaintiff asserted that such testimony and evidence of damages was "not speculative in terms of lost profits." (Id. ) Instead, he argued it was "highly specific as to what amount of money it's going to take to restart this business, to finance its operations during a minimum of a six-month period in the areas we were distributing." (Id. ) At that juncture, though the Court noted that it was "aware of no case authority that suggests that you should be permitted to testify and recover by projecting what it would take at this time to restart a business that doesn't exist currently, " the Court decided to bifurcate the proceedings and address the issue of damages at the second stage of trial, in the event that the jury found in plaintiff's favor on the issue of liability. (Id. at 176-77.)
After the jury found the County defendants liable on plaintiff's tortious interference with contract claim on June 5, 2012, the Court proceeded to the damages portion of the trial. At that point, plaintiff renewed his request for his expert to testify and present the report on the valuation of I Media. The Court denied plaintiff's request on the grounds that plaintiff failed to identify Mr. Pulchin as a witness in the pretrial order and defendants did not have notice that there would be any expert testimony at trial. Beyond expert testimony, Mr. Conte also requested to present other evidence related to the valuation of I Media during the damages stage of the trial, on the grounds that the jury's damage calculation should take into account what it would cost "to have my business put back into the position it was in at that point in time in 2005." (Tr. 1201-02.) Conte maintained that a key part of that cost would be reestablishing and replacing route sales licensing fees- routes that he claimed he could no longer sell as a result of the harm done by the defendants. (Id. ) The Court stressed that "putting the business in a position that it was" ...