Law School Case Brief
Gasperini v. Ctr. for Humanities - 149 F.3d 137 (2d Cir. 1998)
N.Y. C.P.L.R. 5501(c) states that the appellate division should determine that an award is excessive or inadequate if it deviates materially from what would be reasonable compensation.
Plaintiff journalist, William Gasperini, brought a diversity action for damages against defendant production company, The Center for Humanities, Inc.'s (Center), that lost his slide transparencies. Judgment in the amount of $450,000 was remitted to $100,000. On remand, damages of $375,000 were awarded and the Center appealed. The Center argues that the district court abused its discretion by awarding $375,000 plus prejudgment interest despite the appellate court's previous decision that any award greater than $100,000 would "'deviate materially from what would be reasonable compensation,'" and therefore, would be excessive under New York law.
Did the trial court abuse its discretion either when it determined the value of the slides or when it limited cross-examination?
The appellate court affirmed the judgment and gave Gasperini the choice between a remitter to $359,000 or a new trial to determine the difference in value that resulted when the trial court erroneously considered 10 transparencies that were not included in the jury's determination of damages. The court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it applied N.Y. C.P.L.R. 5501(c) because it considered the proper factors when it determined the reasonableness of the jury award and none of its factual findings were clearly erroneous. Except for the ten slides that were not included in the jury verdict, the district court was within its discretion when it reviewed the value of the transparencies to calculate Gasperini's loss and when it entered its remittitur. The court held that the trial court acted within its discretion when it limited cross-examination of Gasperini to avoid wasting time.
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