Emamian v. Rockefeller University, No. 19-127 (2d Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
After a jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiff on her claim of intentional discrimination on the basis of race or national origin by her former employer, Rockefeller University, both plaintiff and the University appealed the final judgment of $250,000 in back pay and $200,000 in remitted emotional distress damages.
The Second Circuit affirmed and rejected both parties' claims of error. The court held that, at bottom, any evidence in the trial record that could even arguably justify punitive damages is sparse, and the failure to instruct the jury on such damages accordingly did not cut to the core of plaintiff's case; plaintiff cannot demonstrate that the failure to instruct the jury on punitive damages constituted an error so serious and flagrant that it goes to the very integrity of the trial; the requirement of intentional discrimination was clearly expressed in the jury instructions and thus the court rejected the University's contention to the contrary; there was no prejudicial error in the formulation of the verdict form necessitating a new trial; the district court had the power to rescind its discharge order and, in the circumstances of this case, its decision to do so was a proper exercise of discretion; and the court rejected the University's challenge to the second verdict form.