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Judgments: Adrian v. Town of Yorktown

By: Daily Record Staff//September 10, 2010

Judgments: Adrian v. Town of Yorktown

By: Daily Record Staff//September 10, 2010

U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit



Adrian v. Town of Yorktown
Appealed from the Southern District of New York

Background: The plaintiffs-appellants Joseph and Elaine Adrian and Adrian Family Partners LLP sued the Town of Yorktown pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 and New York State law, alleging that the town, through its town supervisor, Linda Cooper, and other policy-making officials, maintained an official policy under which the plaintiffs were denied the right to develop their property, and subsequently retaliated against for their exercise of their First Amendment rights.
This case ultimately went to trial, and the plaintiffs prevailed on two of their claims, winning a $150,000 verdict on a state-law breach of contract claim, and nominal damages on a federal malicious prosecution claim.  The district court subsequently vacated the breach-of-contract verdict, which was then reinstated on appeal because it was found that the town had waived the timeliness argument on which the court based its decision. The second circuit then ordered that the case be remanded for proceedings consistent with the summary order, including reinstatement of the jury award of $150,000. On remand, the district court awarded pre-verdict interest to the plaintiffs, but declined to award post-verdict interest, holding that “where the mandate of the court of appeals makes no provision for interest from the date of the verdict to the date of entry of the judgment directed by the mandate, the District Court is ‘powerless’ to award such interest.”

Ruling: Because that claim was brought under New York State law, and because prejudgment interest is a matter of substantive law, the New York interest rate applies to the interest sought. The New York prejudgment interest rate is nine per centum per annum under C.P.L.R. §§5002, 5004. The plaintiffs contend that they are entitled to the New York post-verdict prejudgment interest rate, which is higher than the federal postjudgment interest rate, for the time period between the jury’s Jan. 15, 2008 verdict and the entry of the Nov. 5, 2009 judgment on remand following our reinstatement of the verdict.
The issue is when the final judgment took place. The court finds that plaintiffs are entitled to post-verdict prejudgment interest at the higher New York rate only for the one day separating the Jan. 15, 2008 jury verdict and the Jan. 16, 2008 judgment, and are entitled to postjudgment interest at the federal rate from that point forward.  The court vacates the district court’s Nov. 5, 2009 judgment, and remands to the district court so that it can calculate the award.

David O. Wright for the appellants; and Ralph F. Schoene, of Vouté, Lohrfink, Magro & Collins, LLP, for the appellee

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