Commercial Division Blog

Posted: November 11, 2022 / Written by: Jeffrey M. Eilender, Samuel L. Butt, Christopher R. Dyess, Joshua Wurtzel, Hillary S. Zilz / Categories Commercial, Trial

Court Denies Motion To Set Aside Jury Verdict

In an Opinion, dated October 1, 2022, in 30-32 W. 31st LLC v. Heena Hotel LLC, Index Number 651918/2012, 2022 NYLJ LEXIS 1774, Justice Joel M. Cohen denied both parties’ motions for post-trial relief.  The Court explained: 

Both Plaintiffs and Defendants argue that the jury got it wrong and that their side should prevail. Plaintiff argues that "the Jury appears to have been so laser focused on the issue of breach of contract that they apparently overlooked the very specific testimony and evidence provided at trial that clearly established [fraud]" (Plaintiffs Moving Memorandum at 9 [NYSCEF 775]). Defendants first argue that because "Plaintiffs failed to present an expert accountant or even an accounting at trial" and because 30-32 "presented a misleading argument concerning the parties' respective capital accounts that should not have been permitted" that Plaintiffs failed to establish damages [NYSCEF 797at 1-2 [Defendant's Moving Memorandum]). Defendants also argue, in the alternative that the damages award should be lowered and, in the additional alternative, that judgment should be granted in favor of Heena on its breach of contract counterclaim.  (Id.)

The parties generally agree on the standard to be applied and disagree on what the result should be. In sum, "the critical inquiry is whether the verdict rested on a fair interpretation of the evidence" and "great deference" is provided to a jury "which has the opportunity to see and hear the witnesses" requiring the court to consider "the facts...in a light most favorable to the nonmovant" (KBL, LLP v. Community Counseling & Mediation Services, 123 AD3d 488, 489 [1st Dept 2014][collecting cases, citations omitted]).

Based on the Court's review of the record and close observation of the proceedings at trial, neither side has met the high standard to warrant departure from the unanimous jury verdict (Niewieroski v. Natl. Cleaning Contractors, 126 A.D. 424 (1st Dep’t 1987) [reinstating jury verdict]).

The attorneys at Schlam Stone & Dolan deal frequently with post-trial motions.  Contact the Commercial Division Blog Committee at commercialdivisionblog@schlamstone.com if you or a client have questions concerning post-trial relief.