Stanczyk v. City of New York, et al., No. 13-1582 (2d Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that New York City officers used excessive force when arresting her. On appeal, plaintiff primarily seeks a new trial on damages and challenges portions of the district court's order awarding attorney's fees and costs incurred prior to the date of defendants' Rule 68 Offer. The court concluded that the district court did not err in refusing to give a separate charge as to future damages and plaintiff failed to establish that any potentially improper conduct by defense counsel prejudiced the jury's award of punitive damages. The district court properly applied Rule 68 and did not abuse its discretion by reducing the reasonable hourly rate of plaintiff's lead counsel. The court held that Rule 68 offers need not, as a per se rule, expressly apportion damages among multiple defendants. With respect to apportionment, a Rule 68 offer is operative so long as it is capable of being compared to the prevailing plaintiff's ultimate recovery. Because the Offer meets this standard, the court affirmed the district court's decision. The court rejected plaintiff's claim that the district court erred in reducing the amount of her awardable attorney's fees. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment and order of the district court.