Jury awards: what happens when a judge doesn’t like one

I’ve been kind of busy lately and am a week behind in Sidebar posts. But this lawsuit story in the Daily News caught my eye a few minutes ago, for a number of reasons.

First, the federal judge is Hon. I. Leo Glasser, whose name I have recognized and typed into documents at various times in my paralegal career. He always sounded like a solid and smart judge − and this decision supports my impression. And second, there’s a nice picture of him (I did remember that he’s sort of famous for wearing bow ties) and I’ve never seen him before so …

Anyway.  As John Marzulli, who covers the federal court in Brooklyn, begins this piece:

The verdict was a dollar and a dream.

A federal judge has tossed out a $900,001 award to a Manhattan man who claimed he was the victim of anti-Semitic harassment at an upscale catering company …

OK, so that sounds like a case, right? But do read on (EXCLUSIVE: Judge nixes $900G awarded to man who sued Mangia catering company over anti-Semitic harassment – NY Daily News.) because this poor victim of anti-Semitism had quite a few problems with his story, his case, his lack of evidence, his performance on the witness stand, et cetera. As Marzulli goes on:

Wiercinski’s [the, um, victim?] lawyer, Matthew Blit, told the jury that if his client had done anything wrong, “the judge had an obligation to do something about it.”

Glasser did. The judge referred a transcript of Wiercinski’s testimony to the Brooklyn U.S. attorney’s office [the same office that’s prosecuting Michael Grimm, hurrah hurrah] for investigation…

Indeed, I can’t figure out what the jury was noshing on in the jury room when it coughed up this award. And, yes, you’re right: it’s unusual for a judge to throw out a jury award. Usually, a questionable case and a mammoth award heads to the appellate judges who are the ones to toss ’em, as I’ve pointed out a few times before.

There are a number of excellent plaintiff lessons to learn in this story, along the “don’t do this!” line.


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