November 28, 2016

In separate decisions, the Supreme Court, Suffolk County has rejected a school district’s attempt to set aside a jury verdict or limit the amount of interest to be paid on the verdict to a construction manager who claimed the district breached a contract, in East Hampton Union Free School District v. Sandpebble Builders, Inc., Index No. 2007/1113.  The jury had rendered a verdict and awarded $755,767.41 in breach of contract damages to the construction manager on May 26, 2016.  The District then filed two motions challenging the verdict.  The first motion sought to set aside the verdict in its entirety, based on an argument that the evidence at trial purportedly demonstrated that the claims were not timely filed.  The court denied this motion because there was “viable, if not conclusive evidence” supporting the jury’s verdict that the claims were timely.  The second motion sought to limit the amount of interest that would be imposed on the verdict from the usual 9% to 4.6% (pre-verdict) and 2.8% (post-verdict).  The court denied this motion after finding that 9% is a “presumptively fair and reasonable” rate by law, and the district had not persuaded the court to depart from that rate.   Based on this decision, the interest awarded to Sandpebble (for a ten-year period) nearly doubled the amount of the jury’s verdict.