Legg v. Ulster County, No. 17-2861 (2d Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Four female employees, including plaintiff, filed suit alleging hostile work environment claims. The jury awarded plaintiff a total of $400,000 on her claims against defendants under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and 42 U.S.C. 1983. The County then filed motions for judgment as a matter of law or, alternatively, for a new trial, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(b) and 59(b). The district court then sua sponte denied the motions based on the restrictions established by Rule 6(b)(2) on extending time for filing such motions. The Second Circuit vacated the denial order and remanded. On remand, the district court found that plaintiff "constructively waived" her objection to the timeliness of the County's motions and entered orders reducing plaintiff's Title VII award to $75,000 and overturning the jury verdict in her favor on her section 1983 claim for want of evidence of an unlawful municipal custom or practice under Monell v. Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 (1978). Both plaintiff and the County appealed.
The Second Circuit held that plaintiff forfeited her right to object to the untimeliness of the County's post-trial motions by failing to raise the issue contemporaneously with the district court's grant of the extension. The court further rejected the County's position that plaintiff's acceptance of remittitur on her Title VII claims forecloses her appeal of the judgment insofar as it relates to her section 1983 claim. On the merits, the court affirmed the judgment in plaintiff's favor on her Title VII claim and rejected the County's cross-appeal seeking judgment in its favor on that claim as a matter of law. In regard to the section 1983 claim, the court concluded that the district court erred in entering judgment as a matter of law for the County, because the jury had a reasonable basis for its finding of sufficient municipal involvement to support its award to plaintiff. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded.