Last year, I posted about a disability discrimination that was remanded, in part, back to the Superior Court level. Would this result in at least a partial victory for the employer? And more importantly, what would happen on a remand to the lower court?
I noted back then the Court did uphold “most of a $500K+ verdict against the employer but also sen[t] part of the case back for further consideration. The case has a long and tortured history and also a complicated background. Frankly, it’s a mess to recap in a blog post.”
So, what happened to this case (Tomick v. UPS) on remand? Well, the case did not settle — as many cases on remand often do. Rather, the lower court ultimately had to decide two larger issues.
- The Superior Court awarded postjudgment interest on the award that was upheld by the Appellate Court. For a negligent infliction of emotional distress claim with a verdict of $300,000, the court awarded the statutory interest provision of 10 percent a year — or $82.19 per day. After nearly two years of post-verdict litigation, the interest awarded is about $58,355.You may be surprised by that high rate given that you can’t even get 1 percent interest on your checking account, but the interest has been set by statute since the late 1990s, when the interest rates were much higher.(On another portion of the damages, the court awarded a much lower rate of 3 percent postjudgment interest.)
- Second, the court looked at the issue that was remanded (or sent back) by the Appellate Court on whether the employee was “qualified” for his postiion on the date the adverse employment action decision took place. This was important to the employer because, on remand, it still had to try to overturn a jury verdict.On this issue, the court found that there was still enough evidence in the record to support the verdict in favor of the employee — even using the proper standard articulated by the Appellate Court.
Thus, for the employer, the remand brings little solace. For employers who don’t think they can ever lose a case, the case is a vivid reminder of both the costs of litigation and the costs of a verdict.
Not all cases have happy endings for employers. Even those on remand from an appellate court. But the case is now back on appeal to the Appellate Court. Maybe the final chapter has yet to be written.