STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF YORK
YORK GLOBAL GROUP,
USDC SDNY ELECTRONICALLY DOC#: 䑁呅䘭䥌彅彄强縳縬Ⱝ找縠
MEMORANDUM OPINION ORDER
("NYGG"), ("FNL Media"),
State ''NYSHRL") "NYCHRL")
Plaintiff: 0 UNITED
Plaintiff, - against - NYG CAPITAL LLC d/b/a NEW
FNL MEDIA LLC, and BENJAMIN WEY,
& 14 Civ. 5474 (PGG)
Plaintiff Hanna Bouveng brings this action against Defendants NY G Capital LLC, d/b/a New York Global Group FNL Media LLC and Benjamin Wey alleging claims of (1) quid pro quo sexual harassment under the New York Human Rights Law (the and New York City Human Rights Law (the against all Defendants; (2) retaliation under the and NYCHRL against all Defendants; (3) defamation against all Defendants; and (4) assault and battery against Defendant Wey.
Following a ten-day trial, a jury returned a verdict in favor on all claims except the assault and battery claims against Defendant Wey. As to compensatory damages, the jury awarded Plaintiff (1) on her quid pro quo sexual harassment claims under the and NYCHRL against all Defendants; (2) $1.5 million on her defamation claim against all Defendants; and (3) on her retaliation claims under the and NYCHRL. As to punitive damages on her defamation claim, the jury awarded (1) $I million against Defendant Wey; (2) $1 million against Defendant NYGG; and (3) $5 million
On Plaintiffs $1.00
P. 50 P. P.
Parties Plaintiff Sweden.
Sweden's University. Mat Plaintiff
She M Plaintiff Pecto Oslo, Plaintiff "sales
Case against Defendant FNL Media. NYCHRL retaliation claim, the jury awarded her
as against each Defendant.
Defendants have moved under (1) Fed. R. Civ. for judgment as a matter of law; (2) Fed. R. Civ. 59( a)(l )(A) for a new trial as to liability; and (3) Fed. R. Civ. 59 for a new trial or a remittitur concerning the damage awards. (Dkt. No. 255) For the reasons stated below, Defendants' motion for judgment as a matter oflaw or for a new trial as to liability will be denied. Defendants' motion for a new trial with respect to the compensatory and punitive damage awards will be granted unless accepts a remittitur as to ( 1) the compensatory damage award on her quid pro quo sexual harassment claim; and (2) the punitive damage awards against Wey and FNL Media.
I. THE EVIDENCE AT TRIAL
Hanna Bouveng was raised in Vetlanda, (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 896 1
After high school, she obtained a bachelor's degree in media communication from Halmstad 897-98) was an exchange student in Hong Kong during her last semester, and then worked in marketing in Hong Kong for several months after completing her studies. (Id. at 899) also worked as a model in Hong Kong. at 901)
After graduation, was employed at Media, a marketing company in Norway, with banking and other corporate clients. (Id. at 898) had and
1 The trial transcript page numbers referenced in this opinion correspond to the consecutive page numbers that appear in the final trial transcripts. The page numbers of other documents referenced in this opinion correspond to the page numbers designated by this District's Electronic Filing system.
branding" Pecto, Plaintiffs
Pecto Pecto's @.) Plaintiff Swedish,
Spanish. 2012, Plaintiff
900) She (hL 900-01)
"wholly Group" "parent company" ("The Blot"),
United States University,
of2013, Plaintiff - -
903) responsibilities at and called on clients throughout Norway. (Id.) responsibilities included making presentations to clients and obtaining renewal of contracts with clients for annual marketing plans. speaks Norwegian, and English, and has also studied French, German, and (Id.)
In came to New York City on a student visa to study marketing, management, and fashion at Berkeley College. (Id. at lived in a small apartment in the East Village with a friend from school. at
Defendant Benjamin Wey is the chief executive officer and sole owner of Defendant New York Global Group, an international business consulting firm based in Manhattan. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 487; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 234) at 759) NYGG also has offices in China, where it employs fifty people. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 536) FNL Media - a limited liability company- is a owned subsidiary of New York Global and the
of an online publication called The Blot Magazine of which Wey is the publisher. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 228) at 267; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 242) at 1429) NYGG and FNL Media share office space at Wall in Manhattan. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 228) at 138, 144, 162)
Wey was born in China and moved to the to attend college at Oklahoma Baptist where he earned a bachelor's degree in business administration. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 234) at 756-58) Wey also holds an MBA from the of Central Oklahoma and a master's degree from Columbia business school. (Id. at 759)
B. Meeting and Job Offer
During the summer then 24 years old met Wey at a party at his house in the Hamptons. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 526; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at
760; 908, Plaintiff "looking job" 908)
Plaintiff 909) Plaintiff,
M 909-10) 2
him." M 910) Plaintiff "should company,"
40 Street. (h:L 240) Plaintiff
"[does remember" Plaintiff. ㉾㈩ Wey later invited and a friend to a party at his penthouse apartment in Manhattan. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at At these parties, told Wey about her family background, including that her grandfather had founded SAP A, a large, successful aluminum company in Sweden. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 527; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 234) at Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 914) also told Wey that she had finished her studies and was
for an internship or a in New York City. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at
Later in the summer of2013, and Wey met for lunch. (Id. at According to
[Wey] ordered wine for us. And when we got the wine he asked me if he could move - jump over and sit next to me. And so he did. And then he started to [say] ... that he was lonely and that he needed someone in his life and that he needed someone that he could show the world. . . . And then well he basically said that he wanted a girlfriend. So I told him that I was not interested. I think you have to keep on searching because I'm interested in a job .... then he moved back over. And we had lunch. And that was it. at
A few days later, however, Wey called and said that he thought that [she] was brave that [she] would say no to him[,] [b]ecause a lot of people don't say no to at Wey also told that she come in to discuss a position at his and she agreed to do so. (Id.)
In July met with Wey and James Baxter- NYGG's general counsel and chairman of the board - at NYGG's offices at Wall at 911; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. at 1255) testified that she was offered a marketing position at NYGG (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 911); Wey testified that he agreed to hire her as an intern. (Trial Tr.
Wey testified that he not] going to lunch with (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No.
529-30) Plaintiff, Plaintiffs Plaintiff United 528;
Plaintiff "he to" "introduce know[s]." 4 (Ml) Plaintiff Oslo, Plaintiffs
("DX") BF; Plaintiff
"Kram," "hug." BF; 1036)
2013 ("Nordica Life"). "people [Plaintiffs] father," "came
investors." (Ml) Plaintiffs
"an company," Plaintiff "director marketing." 540)
"visa firm," Plaintiff, "host organization." (Dkt. No. 232) at Both sides agree that Wey, and Baxter completed paperwork relating to application for a J-1 visa, which would enable to work in the
(Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 911-12) Summer Trip to Sweden In August after the J-1 visa paperwork had been submitted, returned to Sweden for an interview at the American embassy in connection with her visa application. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 912) Wey told that would really like join her on the trip, so that she could [him] to some of the people [she]
drafted an itinerary for Wey's trip, proposing visits to Stockholm, and hometown of Vetlanda, and meetings with a number of senior Swedish business executives. (Defense Exhibit Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 234) at 761-62) sent the itinerary to Wey via email, and ended her message with the word which is Swedish for
(DX Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at
Wey testified that one of the reasons he traveled to Sweden in August was to learn about Nordica Life Insurance Company (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 539) The who were involved with Nordica were friends of and Wey
up with the idea that perhaps Nordica Life Insurance Company could be acquired by Chinese In the event of an acquisition, Wey believed that father - Nils Sundqvist-would have important role in the and that herself would become Nordica Life's of (Id. at
3 ASSE, a sponsor obtained the J-1 visa for with NYGG serving as the
(Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 234) at 763) 4
Wey testified that Plaintiff invited him. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 538)
Stockholm Mat Plaintiff
"make [Plaintiff]," "the
again." Mat NYGG Plaintiffs NYGG 2013. Mat Plaintiff
Plaintiff "marketing Mat NYGG, Plaintiff "lobbying work" NYGG's
Mat Plaintiffs M) She "everything
work." 2013, Plaintiff 9:00 5:00
"time time." Plaintiff $1,250 (Trial, 1031-32; Plaintiffs ("PX") 130)
During this August trip, Plaintiff and Wey travelled to Vetlanda and to Vastervik, where a preliminary meeting related to Nordica Life was conducted. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 913) They also had meetings in and Norway. 913-14; DX BF) introduced Wey to her father and her cousin's uncle, and she took him to see the aluminum company that her grandfather had founded. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 914) During this trip, Wey did not any sexual advances towards and the conversation about him wanting a girlfriend [did not] come up 913-14)
D. Plaintiff's Employment at
employment at began on October 1, 916) testified that when she started at she wanted only a professional relationship with Wey.
was given her own office, and was told that her responsibilities would be and communications." 917) During her first month at did
in Washington, D.C., and worked on website and press releases. (Id. at 917-18) also researched individuals was scheduled to meet and the companies they worked for. 918) work also involved The Blot Magazine.
attended meetings in which The Blot team discussed from budget to [public relations] to and she to coordinate meetings with other companies that would benefit The Blot's (Id.; see also Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 228) at 161-62) During October worked from a.m. to p.m., and would attend after-work social events with Wey from to (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 919) was paid
every two weeks. Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at Exhibit
"official NYGG]" "intern," "Director Communications." 530-31)
CM:. 530-31) "thought
"depended" "would work."
differently." (I.QJ Over "got
day." (I.Qj October 2013 2014, "[w]eekly." CM:. "In
anyway." Although Wey testified that the classification of [Plaintiffs] status [at - for purposes of her J-1 visa - was Wey gave her the title ofNYGG's of Corporate (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 489, Plaintiffs NYGG business cards and her NYGG email reflected this title. at Plaintiff testified that Wey that it would look good if we went to meetings and he ... introduce[d] me as the director of corporate communications." (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 912) Wey confirmed that it ... appropriate to hold out to the world for marketing purposes that she was [NYGG's] director of corporate (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 532)
Plaintiff testified that, when she first began work at NYGG, Wey's treatment of her on whether she accompany him to dinners or social events after (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 959) [she] did that, then he would be happy and treat [her] well. And if [she] would say that [she] was going to go to dinner with friends, then he would get upset and get pouty and did not talk to [her] and treat[ed] [her] time, Wey more aggressive regarding [Plaintiffs desire] to spend time with friends outside of work. He would bring [her] to [his] office and have these long monologues. As soon as [Plaintiff] had a dinner with a friend, he would bring [her] to [his] office the next Between
and January Plaintiff went out to dinner with Wey at 962) the beginning it was with other people, business contacts, and then it started become more just him and (Id.)
Wey [also] often compliment [Plaintiff] on [her] looks and how [she] dressed, and he would make comments about [her] body .... For example, if [she] said that f she] was going to go to the gym after work he would say, oh, you don't need that and you have a fit and thin body (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 961) Wey made these remarks both when
"Wey her" Plaintiff "she
don't subordinate." Y
was." ilih 270) Plaintiff "He
me." Plaintiff"never people." Plaintiffs "would her."
Plaintiff's they were alone and when other employees were present, which made feel
5 (Id.) Alicia Lu- an associate editor for The Blot (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 228) at 145)-testified that was very complimentary of Ms. Bouveng and [was] always standing very close to at the office, and that Wey would often tell that looked beautiful, or looked very nice .... Things that you usually hear in the office from a superior to a
(Id. at 171-72) onatan Weiss - a graphic designer for The Blot - testified that Wey behave[d] in a lecherous manner [toward He would constantly comment on her physical appearance and shower heaps of praise on her physical appearance and her beauty and her stylishness and how glamorous and pretty she at 267,
Wey also frequently touched at the office: would very often put his arm around me or come close to me, stand very close to me and kiss me on the cheek when he greeted (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 961-62) saw [Wey] touch other
(Id. at 962) Lu testified that she observed Wey touch behind, and that he put his arm around (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 228) at 172) Weiss similarly testified that Wey put his arm around around the small of her back, [and] always had her at his side whenever we were in at
E. November 2013 Boston Trip
November 2, Wey gave a speech at a conference at Babson College in Boston. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 474; DX BQ) The night before the speech, Wey drove from New York City to Boston with and her Nina Chelidze. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 475; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at After arriving in Boston, Wey dropped off Chelidze at a
5 At trial, Wey did not dispute testimony concerning his dinner invitations and comments on her appearance. 6
At trial, Wey did not dispute these accounts.
hotel Plaintiff (Is:L Plaintiff
(lsh Plaintiff hotel, (lsh Plaintiff"met morning" (Mh
"left Boston," "had nephew" school
M Plaintiff hotel,
@) Plaintiff "[i]t
P. friend's house, and he and Plaintiff"proceeded to the Boston Harbor (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 475)
Wey testified that, although he and Bouveng arrived at the together, left when they got there. at 475-76) Wey does not recall where went or whether she had any luggage; he likewise does not recall whether he dined that evening. at 475) Wey likewise denied that he and shared a room at the Boston and denied that he tried to have sex with Bouveng. at 535) Wey testified that [him] in the hotel the next and he did not ask her where she spent the night. at 476) Wey further testified that, after the conference, he [Plaintiff] in because he to go see [his]
at a in Rhode Island. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 869)
gave a much different account of the November 2013 Boston trip. 7 testified that, after she and Wey dropped off Chelidze, they drove to the Boston Harbor Hotel. at 921) further testified that, once at the they
had dinner. Then we were going to go up to the room or check in. And [Wey]
booked one room. we went up to that room. Q. And tell us what happened in the room. A. Well he - he started to come to me. to kiss me on the neck. And he started to take off my coat. And then I asked him if he had condoms. And he said he hadn't, but that it was okay anyway because he was And then I said I didn't want - that I didn't want to do anything. And he said okay. And he went to the bathroom. And I just changed and went to bed. And then nothing else happened.
testified that she asked Wey if he had a condom because was just something that [she] came up with to try to prevent what was going to (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at
7 For purposes of its review under Fed. R. Civ. 59, the Court finds Bouveng's account of the Boston trip more credible than Wey' s account.
959-60) She "didn't
sleeping." iliL_ 960)
She "Annie" who
"[iJt shameful" "didn't say." iliL_
"said hotel." iliL_) Plaintiff "have
room," "didn't 桾
himself." Plaintiff "slept night," QQ.,_
2013, Plaintiff Street 925; 1051)
also testified that she sleep very well that night and [she] tried to lay as still as possible because [she J wanted to make it seem as if [she J was at
When Bouveng woke up the next morning, she did not discuss the previous night's events with Wey. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 921-22) also did not tell Chelidze or
- another friend attended the Babson College conference - what had happened, because was and she know what [she] was going to at 922)
After the conference, Plaintiff, Chelidze, Annie, and Wey drove back to Boston and had dinner there, and then she and Wey good-bye to [Chelidze] and Annie and [returned] ... to the did not any discussion with Mr. Wey about the fact that there was still only one because she know what [she] was going to say. I mean knew that - he knew from the beginning what I wanted and he knew - he just knew what I wanted. And he still booked that room by (Id. at 922-23) testified that she on the couch that and that nothing happened between herself and Wey. at 923) The next day - on the drive back to New York City- they stopped at Wey's nephew's college, where walked around the campus while Wey visited with his nephew. (Id.)
testified that Wey initially treated her differently after the Boston trip: He was pretty cold and didn't talk to me, and that was the first days. He would put a lot of work pressure on me and then he would just switch and asked were about to go to dinner, so we did. And then he was all happy and everythmg was great. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 959)
F. Broad Apartment
In mid-November moved from her East Village apartment to an apartment at 25 Broad in lower Manhattan, close to NYGG's offices. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at
(ML On Plaintiff "emergency "friend." 1052) Plaintiff
Park close." 240) 1207)
that," "said salary" "something month,"
"helped cash," ilih
anyone" Street 240) 1207)
"[i]t idea" Street
United States tenant." (ML) Plaintiff "asked rent]" (Mh) Plaintiff testified that the apartment move was Wey's idea: Wey it would be a great idea for [her] to have [her] own apartment; that it would make [her] feel like ... more of a professional successful business (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 925) testified that Wey found the apartment for her; that she had never been to the building before
' Wey showed her the apartment; and that she signed the lease that same day. at 925-26)
the lease forms, listed Wey as her contact'' and as her (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at testified that, while she was signing the paperwork, Wey standing over [her] shoulder and said that [she] should list him as a friend ... because he lived ... in Battery so he was near so if something were to happen he would be (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. at
also testified that she told Wey with the salary [she J had now [she] could not afford an apartment like and that Wey that he would raise [her] to
between five and seven thousand dollars a so that she could pay the rent. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 926) Wey did not give Bouveng a raise, however. Instead, he
[her] pay [the rent] with which she had to ask him for every month. at 927) Wey told Bouveng ''not [to J tell how the rent at the 25 Broad apartment was being paid. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. at
Wey, by contrast, testified that was Ms. Bouveng's to move into the Broad apartment, and that she found the apartment herself. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 791) He also testified that [him] to become guarantor for her apartment because she ha[d] no credit history in the and the building would not approve her to go on her own name as a Wey stated that also [him] to subsidize [the cost of the monthly because she could not afford it. Wey conceded that he gave
Plaintiff "agreement" "[b advance." (kt "condition
"NYGG team" "critical group." Plaintiff, "[a]lmost
(IQ. Plaintiff including "a
Sweden." (kt Plaintiff
[deal]." cash every month to help pay the rent for the apartment, and that he did not the· cash expense through NYG Capital at 793)
Wey further testified that he and reached an whereby, ]efore she allows anybody to stay over at the apartment[, Wey] must be notified in at 792) Wey stated that this was a for [him being] guarantor because [his] liability was on the line .... (Id.) Wey admitted, however, that the building required tenants to obtain liability insurance, and that had obtained a liability policy for the apartment. at 870-71)
G. December 2013 Trips to China and Dubai
In December Wey, and NYGG general counsel James Baxter traveled to China on business. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 535; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 929) While in China, they did some sightseeing, and met with politicians, businessmen, and potential investors in NYGG. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 536-37) They also met with Roger Li, a member of the Asia and a decision maker of that Chinese investor
(Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 821, 873) Wey, and Baxter saw Li on a daily during their seven-to-ten-day trip at 821), and some of the discussions with Li involved the potential Nordica Life transaction. at 822) Wey testified that told Li about her education and professional background, that she had bachelor's degree in communications, and ... extensive family connections in at 823)
From China, and Wey traveled to Dubai. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 537; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at Wey testified that the Dubai trip was the result of a minute recommendation by a Chinese government official to introduce some business contacts [in connection with] [the] Nordica Life Insurance (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 797) Wey
(I4J "had acquaintances,"
"was room." (Ml Plaintiff, "went Pretending
P. testified that one hotel room was procured at the Atlantis Hotel in that he paid for the room, and that slept in that room they were in Dubai. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 4 76-77) Although the hotel for the Atlantis Hotel states that guests stayed in the room (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 865; 113), Wey testified that he stayed at a friend's house while in Dubai. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 479)
testified that she and Wey spent one night in Dubai. Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 1057. They to Dubai in the and when they checked into the hotel, Bouveng learned that there only one room (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 930) They left their bags at the hotel and attended meetings during the day. They dinner at [the house of] one of Mr. Wey's and then they took a taxi back to the hotel. (Id. at 930-31) They went upstairs, and there only one at 931) According to after they entered the room, Wey to the bathroom. And I changed and went to bed.
I was falling asleep. And he crawled in the bed. And pushed himself against me. And he asked me how I could be so tired all the time. But then I just ignored him and he left me alone. (Id.)
When asked why she did not confront Wey about booking only one room, testified as follows: I didn't know what I was going to say .... I was just in shock and humiliated and ashamed. And [I] didn't want to upset him. I saw how he could get [en ]raged at the office. That he would scream to people. He would even scream to Mr. Baxter .... [I thought] [t]hat he would get angry, kick me out or ... fire me, revoke my visa .... I thought that I would upset him. That he would come after me because I saw that if people didn't do what he wanted them to do or if they crossed his way then he would attack them with his magazine or if it was lawsuits or whatever it could be. And I was intimidated. I met all these powerful business
For purposes of its review under Fed. R. Civ. 59, the Court finds Bouveng's account of events in Dubai more credible than Wey's account.
Plaintiff "[a]fter York Group," "was
[her]," Plaintiff "[r]eally bad." 960)
"gave Prada bonus."
Street "wanted tea." QQ...)
"never anything." iliL_) Plaintiff
So people through him .... I'm not from the [S Jtates. I don't know how it works here. I don't have any family here. My friends here are college students. at 931-32)
further testified that, the Dubai trip and once [she] [was] back at New Global Wey treating [her] in the same manner as after the Boston trip. He was very pouty and chilly and would put a lot of work pressure on which made
feel (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at H. Plaintiff's Sexual Encounters With Wey
After Dubai, Wey and traveled to Copenhagen for a meeting concerning the Nordica Life acquisition. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 932) Between December 24 and December 31, Wey was with his family on vacation in Costa Rica. (Id. at DX BT) After Wey returned from his vacation, he and Bouveng went out for dinner and drinks. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 932-33) At dinner, Wey [Plaintiff] a bag as a year-end (Id. at 933)
After dinner, Bouveng and Wey walked to Plaintiff's Broad apartment building, and Wey told her that he to come up for some Bouveng told Wey that she was tired, but he complained that she invite[d] [him] up ... [and] never ha[d] time to do (Id. at 934) He accompanied Bouveng to her apartment. testified that inside the apartment, the following took place:
We sat down on the couch. And I sat on the other end. And he asked me to come closer. I did. And then he started to put his arm around me and started to ... kiss me on the neck. And then he stood up and grabbed my hand and we walked into the bedroom .. -. . And then he started to undress me. And he said he brought a box of condoms. And then we just laid down to bed. And we had sex.
we?1< 繤 瑾潵杨 entire life So Plaintiff "just
Sometime Plaintiff "said
Street it." (MJ Plaintiff "[r]eally guilty."
again." @:.) She @:.) She
"[b]lank." @) Plaintiff
described her mental state as follows: I felt so used and I was so ashamed that I let this happen. That I've been my and nothing like this has ever happened. And everything that I've ever been, strong, independent, he just took that away from me. I was not that person anymore. (Id.) did not speak to Wey about what happened that night; she testified that he came into the office the next day and pretended as if nothing happened, as if everything was
(Id. at 935)
after this first sexual encounter, Wey called and that he needed to talk to [her] and ask[edj [her] if he could come to the (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 963) told him that she did not feel comfortable meeting at her apartment, so they met for dinner in lower Manhattan. At dinner, Wey gave a monologue, around 45 minutes, that [Plaintiff] didn't appreciate the chance [she] got on Wall and that he thinks that [she] feel[s] entitled to things and that [she] need[s] to work for Wey's remarks made feel bad and (Id.) After dinner, Wey and Bouveng returned to her apartment and had sex again. at 964) Plaintiff testified that Wey to kiss me, and I pulled away and he still kept on doing that, and everything happened
testified that she did not kiss Wey, hug him, or reciprocate in any way. also testified that she never wanted to have sex with Wey. (Id.) Afterwards, she felt
testified that she and Wey had sex two more times. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 935) These encounters made Bouveng feel and more weak. That I didn't mean
Wey testified at trial that he and never had sex, and that he never attempted to have sex with her. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 472) For purposes of its review under Fed. R. Civ. 59, the Court finds Bouveng's account of their relationship more credible.
useless." She "[she] iliU On 2014, Plaintiff's 9:00
240) 1205) "Wey
no." 240) 1205) Plaintiff
"[m]iddle ," "made again."
"never again," Plaintiff "started
"forced Plaintiff him," Second 40) 繾70, 204;
1063) anything. That everything that I felt and thought, that it didn't matter. I felt (Id.) did not tell anyone what was happening, however, because was ashamed.'' 10
February 2, Wey came to apartment at a.m. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 966; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. at Bouveng testified that came into the building and was knocking on my door. And he came in. . . . And then he - he wanted to have sex. And then I told him (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. at explained the circumstances as follows:
... Mr. Wey was going to travel to China, and he wanted to meet me before then.
he came up to the apartment and he wanted to have sex again, and I said no. And then he would be very aggressive and pouty try to make me feel guilty. And then he said that he was going to think about repercussions or consequences that he felt - he switched from that to work very quickly and said that he had to think about my role in the company. Then he left [for] China and he sen[t] an email to Mr. Baxter and myself that I needed training. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 966)
Bouveng further testified that, around the or end of February she a decision not to let [the sexual encounters] happen (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 935-36) did not communicate this explicitly to Wey, however:
I just thought that I would ease out of it, ... just somehow try [to] make it stop. And I felt that I couldn't just say no, I just couldn't go up and make a decision ... [because] he would definitely fire me. He would kick me out of the apartment. He would ... revoke my visa. I thought that he was going to, you know, come after me. Like he said in the very beginning, no one ever said no to him before. (Id. at 936) In order to ensure that sex between them happened to spend a lot more time with [her friends] [James] Chauvet and [Chemme] Koluman, and [she]
Although all three complaints Bouveng filed in this action alleged that Wey to have sexual intercourse with (see Amended Cmplt. (Dkt. No. 67, First Amended Cmplt. (Dkt. No. 11) 62, 65, 152; Cmplt. (Dkt. No. 62, 65, 152), Bouveng testified at trial that Wey used no physical force. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at
"more usual" "wanted usual."
2014, Sweden "critically
" 805) Plaintiffs "who
Insurance." Mat 806) Plaintiffs Swedish "who company]." @)
Cafe Sundqvist. Mat 809; 1084; asked them to be in the apartment or [she] tried to be more around them so [she] wasn't going to be (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 965) Koluman confirmed at trial that in February she and Plaintiff started spending more time together; Koluman testified that Plaintiff seemed
stressed than and [Koluman] to be around more than (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. at
Plaintiff testified that, after it became clear to Wey that she rejecting his sexual advances, he became aggressive and put a lot more work pressure on [her] and expected things that seemed very difficult to accomplish in th[ e] period of time that he required." (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 965)
I. January Trip
In late January Wey and Plaintiff met in for a important business trip ... to finalize the acquisition ofNordica Life Insurance and [to] confirm the management team in that would be running the business[,] as well as [to] work diligently towards entering into a term sheet towards the acquisition ofNordica Life Insurance .. . . (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at Wey testified that he met with father - was going to become the chief financial officer [ofNordica - and her father's friend Lars Forseth- chairman of Manpower Europe, who was going to become the chairman of Nordica Life Wey also met with aunt, Helena Bouveng, a member of the Parliament, was going to become a consultant to [the
During this trip, Plaintiff and Wey went to Linne, a Stockholm coffee shop, where they met with Plaintiff's father, Nils Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at
DX J) The three then traveled to Luxembourg, where Nordica Life is headquartered, and
staff"to learn " (Trial
place "the well related conditions," ultimately "formal sheet,"
"targeted closing date"
deal closed, "investors Asia" would Alan CEO. (Trial
- CFO - - - would "possibility [Plaintiff] marketing" also
®J "was only acquisition." (IQ..)
approval "to 2014."
Trial 1090) proposal Plaintiff's CFO (Trial
"fine professional qualifications," "serious close family
team." told "Hanna
"reach general met with the company's more about the business .... Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 811) Extensive negotiations took about acquisition ofNordica Life Insurance as as terms and and the parties entered into a term which is dated February 5, 2014. (Id. at 812; DX BC) The term sheet reflects a
of March 31, 2014. (DX BC at 2) If the in become the new owners of Nordica Life, together with Klotz, the company's chairman and Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 814) Wey testified that Plaintiff's father as and Lars Forseth as executive chairman
be running the business together with Klotz. (Id. at 815) Wey further testified that the
for to become the director of ofNordica Life was discussed. Wey noted that Plaintiff the bridge for us into this
J. February and March Developments in the Nordica Life Transaction
In mid-February 2014, Wey met with investors in China to obtain their proceed with ... closing the [Nordica Life] transactions by March 31, (Id. at 816, 824; Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at Wey discussed with the Chinese investors his that father serve as ofNordica Life. Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 824-25) The investors were with his ... but they had concerns about the relationship involving Ms. Bouveng, [and] her members. They considered that a concentrated management risk. If something goes wrong with Hanna Bouveng, we are losing [the] entire management (Id. at 825) Moreover, Roger Li Wey that Bouveng would not be qualified for the of marketing director at Nordica Life. at 826)
Wey told Li that he would out to [his] colleague and counsel[ - James Baxter- and ask him] to spend a few days with Ms. Bouveng in the office, provide some
learn 2014 level
late 2014 - - "intensive course"
Trial Trial 1094-95; Trial 240) Plaintiffs
(Trial "during [Plaintiff] fired." (Trial
material learning." (kl) 2014 Plaintiffs -
"Hanna job." Trial
Plaintiff "no division"
iliU training and arrive at somewhat of an assessment [of] how much time it [would] take for Ms. Bouveng to before the March 31, closing date ... to reach some of understanding of her professional in understanding the financial (Id. at 826-27)
In mid to February at Wey's direction Baxter presented a four-day training on financial products to Bouveng, in an effort to prepare her to serve as Nordica Life's marketing director. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 557-58; Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 828; Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 966-67, Tr. (Dkt. No. at 1263-64)
education and prior employment had not involved the financial products Baxter discussed. Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 967) Baxter testified that, the week we spent together ... said she was worried she was going to get Tr. (Dkt. No. 242) at 1442) Baxter understood expressions of concern mean that she felt that it was obvious she ... didn't know the and wasn't
In a February 23, email, however, Wey told Nils Sundqvist - father that the intensive training course had been a success:
I like to tell you that I am very pleased with the progress that Hanna made last week in her intensive training program. It was not easy and I believe she did an excellent job learning the complex finance industry. . . . It was a training success and we learned great things about Hanna. 15at1) 11
Wey testified that he sent this email before he spoke to Baxter about Bouveng's performance during the training. When Wey spoke to Baxter the next day, he told Wey that did a terrible (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 562; Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 831) Wey testified that, at this point, he became concerned about whether Bouveng would be able to serve as Nordica Life's marketing director. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 563) Wey did not communicate to anyone that was longer going to be head of the marketing at Nordica Life, however.
2014, "terrible job" 2014, Plaintiff
PX 20) Plaintiff
On 2014, Plaintiff
demeanor"; "[e]xcellent clients]"; "[w]orks
"was work," "ask[ed]
20 Although Wey claims that Baxter told him on February 24, that Bouveng did a during the training, in late February or early March Wey put in charge of a Nordica Life re-branding project. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 566-67) Wey also sent
to Europe in late March to discuss the Nordica Life deal with two Swedish law firms and a marketing company. (Id. at 564-65; see also gave a presentation to these firms concerning the ideas she and Wey had for Nordica Life. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at
K. Evidence Concerning Job
Wey testified that Bouveng did a at work during October, November, and December of2013. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 534, 541) January 1, received a written evaluation from NYGG, which was provided at the request of her visa sponsor firm. (Id. at 541; 8) The evaluation states that promptly each day and keeps an appropriate has professional relations with both [co-workers and hard in team environment and impresses clients with her understanding and articulate and assigned work promptly and produces work with few areas which can be improved with 8)
Wey testified that Bouveng's work performance began to decline during the last week of February however, and he observed a change in her behavior at work. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 546, 553; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 837) Bouveng regularly late for
and when he her why [she was] always late she gave [him the] same answer, breakfast line was too (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 837) Wey also testified that behavior in the office became somewhat ... strange, (Id. at 838) For example, Wey
that the lights in her office were always off, her head was often on the desk, and she had
She time[.]" iliU "felt anymore." (IQJ
Plaintiff United States Mat
Plaintiff $7,000 Plaintiff
"major impact" "when her." Mat
Plaintiff - - "that industry." Mat Plaintiff Series
"did Wey." droopy eyes. was tired all the Wey like she ... just didn't care about her work
In late March or early April 2014, Wey realized that Bouveng had missed the deadline for submitting an application for an H-lB visa, which is a work visa that would have allowed to stay in the for at least four years. 12
835-36) Wey testified that he had hired an immigration law firm to help obtain an H-1 B visa, and that NYGG had paid in legal fees associated with that work. (Id. at 834-35) Wey testified that because had missed the H-lB visa application deadline, she would have to wait an entire year to re-apply. (Id. at 836) Wey testified that this had a on his decisions with respect to her employment, because her ... internship visa [ran] out in February 2015, [NYGG] would lose 836-37) Wey also testified, however, that as of March 2014, he still wanted Bouveng to obtain the H-lB visa, despite her alleged strange and erratic behavior. at 880)
In early to mid-April 2014, Wey sent to a brokerage firm Cambridge Alliance Capital so she could do some on the ground training starting from the very basic brokers' 832) At Cambridge, was given a 7 book to read, and she was instructed to cold-call people to ask if they would be interested in buying stocks or bonds. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 977)
In an April 15, 2014 email to Plaintiff's father, Wey states that, Hanna, the real issue is both [an] economic and lifestyle choice: is young and she likes to have fun as a priority in her life. . . . I have recently asked some Wall friends of mine to do [Plaintiff] a
Bouveng testified that she did not submit the H-lB visa application because she not want to work for Mr. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 967)
Street try." Plaintiff's On 2014,
On 2014, Plaintiffs
2014, big favor: Train Hanna from the ground up, and learn the first step of entry to Wall as a hard working marketing professional .... This is our last (PX 22 at 4-5)
April 21, Wey called Bouveng to a meeting at NYGG's offices. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 978) At trial, Bouveng described the meeting as follows:
It was a long meeting. And he was talking a lot. And he was talking about [how] he always wanted to see me. He always wanted to spend time with me. He wanted to have sex with me. He wanted to hug me. He wanted to kiss me. And he said that he's driven by passion. And if there is no passion then there's nothing there for him. He was talking a lot about - that I should stick close to him. And ... he saying that I don't have any friends. They don't like me.
even if they do, they're not going to be able to be there for me anyway because they don't have resources. And he has resources because he's the top dog on Wall And he was kind of saying that if I didn't start to spend more time with him he would have to start to look for someone else. In the beginning of the conversation he said that ... I had until December 1 to change my mind. And then at the end of the conversation he said ... that ifl don't show him tangible love he's kicking me out by August 1. . . . [T]hroughout the entire conversation I didn't say much because he was doing a lot of talking. And then in the end of the conversation he just said you should think about it. And then we just said bye. at 978-79)
the morning of April 22, Wey went to apartment. After his knocks on the door were not answered, Wey used a key to gain entry to the apartment. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. at 1227-28) Inside Bouveng's bedroom, Wey found her African-American friend James Chauvet, with whom Bouveng had been at a nightclub the night before. 13
at 1226-28; see also Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 489) Wey demanded Chauvet's name, social security number, and telephone number, and an explanation of what he was doing at the apartment. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 517-18; see also Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. at 1228) Chauvet explained
As early as February Wey had obtained background information concerning Chauvet, including his photograph. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 513-14)
240) "did her?" (kl) "going
[her]." Plaintiff "had yesterday."
["]you I'm York Group.["]
"that things." 980) "I
out." (kl) Plaintiffs
York that he was a friend of Bouveng. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. at 1228) Wey asked, you fuck
Wey told Chauvet that he was to call the cops and when I get back you better be Wey then left the apartment. 14
(Id.) Wey went from Bouveng's apartment to the offices of Cambridge Alliance Capital, where Bouveng was receiving training. of the partners told [her] that [she] should go downstairs because Mr. Wey [was] waiting for (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 979) went downstairs to meet Wey, who asked her if she fun (Id.) Wey said
that he was just in my apartment. And I said well then you must have met my friend James. And then he screamed- he screamed fucking bitch. gonna revoke your visa today. I want you out of the apartment today. You're no longer hired by New Global (Id. at 979-80) Wey and Bouveng then walked to her apartment, where Wey told Bouveng [she] should pack [her] (Id. at Wey told Bouveng, want you out now and I'm going to be here until you are friend Chemme Koluman came to the apartment to help Bouveng pack; Wey told Koluman that felt (Id. at 980-81) Bouveng packed her bags and brought them to the hallway outside her apartment. Wey then
That same day, Wey sent the following email to Bouveng and her father:
I got a call from apartment building manager today. It was concerned someone may have broken into her apartment. Since I was the guarantor of the apartment, my assistance was needed. After we got into her apartment around 11 am today, the building manager and I saw a six-foot tall, homeless black man named lying on her bed. The man was totally naked, dirty, totally drunk and perhaps on illegal drugs. It was suspected this man was an intruder. We were going to call the police to have him arrested. The fact is that the man was a
of Hanna's and he was invited by Hanna to spend the night with her in her apartment, after a 2 am party last night at [a] night club ... in New City. (PX 24)
"slammed face," "scream[ing]
"naked, drunk" "homeless man" "par[ crazy," "hanging
people," "double life." ⡓敥Ȿ✠ PX Plaintiffs PX Plaintiffs PX Plaintiffs
Plaintiff (See, 縮偘 Plaintiff's
Plaintiffs "about termination."
Yes. the door in [her] that [she] can go and tell that black guy James to go and fuck 982)
After Bouveng was fired and thrown out of her apartment, she that everything was going to be over and that ... [she] wouldn't have to deal with this man in [her] life ever (Id. at 984) After April 2014, Bouveng never called, emailed, texted, or attempted to communicate with Wey in any fashion. (Id.)
M. Wey's Post-Termination Communications With Bouveng
In the days and weeks following Bouveng's termination, Wey sent a number of emails to her family and friends, telling them that he had found a dirty, totally
black in Bouveng's bed, and that she ties] like is not out with the right and leads a 24 (email to father);
38 (email to brother); 41 (email to aunt, Helena Bouveng)) Wey attached to these emails photographs of Chauvet, Koluman, and at night clubs.
36 (email to father and aunt, Helena Bouveng)) Wey testified that he sent these emails and photographs to family in order to inform them the reasons behind the (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 596)
At trial, described her reaction to Wey's emails as follows: Q .... How did you feel that Mr. Wey was sending these e-mails to your father? A. It was embarrassing. And then I thought it was scary because I couldn't understand why Mr. Wey would send my father e-mails. And I could not understand the content of the e-mails that he is sending to my father.
Q. Did you ever discuss with your father how he felt getting these e-mails? A.
"really [her]." 105
Plaintiffs 2014. (IQ.,_) Q. And how did those discussions with your father make you feel? A. stressed me out because - the impact and the effect it had on my father, who was m Vetlanda, in It affected me a lot and it got me really upset, stressed, scared that he would keep on contacting him.
Q. How do you feel that this letter, this e-mail was sent to your dad? A. Embarrassing. Trying to humiliate me in front of my family. I felt that he's trying to make me look bad in front of everyone I know in order to isolate me. At it - it freaks you out when a person of his rank - he is the ... of a Wall
company in private equity. And he would write to my father about my boyfriend and about sex and about alcohol. And it's just bizarre. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 985-86, 989)
April 27 or 28, while Plaintiff was with her friends and former co- workers Y onatan Weiss and Alicia Lu, Plaintiff received a phone call from Wey. Weiss recorded the call on his cell phone. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 228) at 272-73; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. at 1144) During the call, Wey pleaded with Bouveng to meet him for dinner or coffee, because he want[ed] to say something to (PX at I) Wey told Plaintiff that he had been investigating Chauvet and had videos of Chauvet going into apartment as early as February The phone conversation included the following:
[L ]ast time we spoke you said if, if, if it's not any tangible love or if I can't give you time, then I, I'm done by first of August. Hanna, you have been ... cheating on me since the end of February. We have those videos. The first day was February 28. Cheating? ... what do you mean by cheating? ... Hanna, ... I'm not answering. We're talking over telephone. All I wanna tell you, I reviewed the video since the end of February ....
"out 1" "tangible love."
240) at4-5) 15
Wey testified that he wanted to meet with to discuss Chauvet's criminal record. 16
(Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 851) Wey also wanted to have a ''more formal termination of the employment relationship because ... [he] realized [he] had terminated [Bouveng] too abruptly without careful thinking and put her in a bad
N. Plaintiff's Counsel's Communications
to Wey and the Filing of This Lawsuit
April 29, Plaintiff's counsel - David Ratner of the law firm Morelli Alters Ratner - emailed the following letter to Wey:
We represent Hanna Bouveng. We are writing to you in the hope that you understand the seriousness of the situation in which you now find yourself. We suggest that you have your lawyer contact us immediately in order to resolve this situation before we are forced to commence what is likely to be embarrassing litigation. Also, be warned, that if you take any further retaliatory action against our client such as contacting Ms. Bouveng and/or her family and/or her friends and/or her associates on the telephone or in person, we will file suit at once along with the concrete irrefutable evidence in our possession. We are also investigating whether your actions to date rise to the level of criminal misconduct that would require law enforcement intervention. lfwe do not hear from your lawyer by May 6, we will file anyway. yourself. (DXX)
Wey testified at trial that he regarded this letter as attempt to extort money from [him] by falsely claiming that [he] forced Ms. Bouveng to have sex with (Trial Tr.
Lu testified that Bouveng had told her that Wey had told Bouveng that she would be by August if she didn't give Wey (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 228) at 199) At trial, Wey denied ever making such a threat to Bouveng. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 234) at 615) For purposes of its review under Fed. R. Civ. 59, the Court finds Bouveng's account credible. 16
Chauvet testified that he has two misdemeanor convictions for possession of a weapon and possession of controlled substances. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. at 1221)
enforcement." 720) On 2014,
2014, You You
YI) "forced Plaintiff him"
United States 30 2014. 1043-44) She NYGG (IQJ
Plaintiffs Sweden, Sweden. PX 103 On 2014, "Hanna Sweden. yesterday." (PX 103 On 2014, (Dkt. No. 232) at Wey also interpreted the letter as a to file some sort of a false allegation relating to Hanna Bouveng with law (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 234) at
May 7, Ratner sent the following email to Wey: We ... told you to stop harassing Ms. Bouveng, her family and her friends. Further, we told you that if you failed to contact us by May 6, we would take steps to enforce Ms. Bouveng's legal rights. have failed to do as you were told. Accordingly, attached is the legal complaint we intend to file on Ms. Bouveng's behalf on Friday May 9. have one more chance to avoid what surely will be expensive and embarrassing litigation for you, your company and your family. In addition, if you continue to contact Ms. Bouveng, her family or her friends in any manner whatsoever, she will take steps to obtain an order of protection and restraining order. (DX Attached to the email was a draft complaint alleging, inter alia, that Wey
to have sexual intercourse with - while she was intoxicated - on approximately four occasions. (DX 59, 62) Wey testified that, based on this email and the draft complaint, he concluded that Bouveng and her counsel were to file a false charge of rape with law enforcement ifl did not pay them money .... (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 234) at 724)
testified that her J-1 visa expired when her employment with ended, and that she left the within days of its expiration - i.e., by May 22, (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at also testified that she never told Wey or anyone else at
or FNL Media that she had left the country.
May 22 and 24, however, Wey sent a number ofFacebook messages to Camilla Blomqvist, best friend in indicating that he knew that Bouveng had returned to (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 234) at 653-55; at 4) May 22, he wrote: is back to Vetlanda Left at 4) May 24, he wrote:
" 2014. -
2014 2015, 2014 2014."
"BURNED: Party Water." "Sam Patterson," Camilla, you should know that Hanna wants to get some money out of us through the threat of a lawsuit. ... If she sues us, we will have to counter sue her - seeking millions of dollars in damage from her and her family for hurting our reputation. We will have to publish ALL of her relationships and photos with drug dealers, both in articles and in our counter lawsuit against her. All of her family and friends will be dragged in .... You should tell her that we have interest in her. We do not plan to publish any articles about her .... If she sues us, we will give her a penny, and we will spend millions of dollars going after her forever. Wey also stated: Hanna Bouveng would like to have a 'fight,' welcome. Is she ready to have her entire family and friends involved in a counter suit against her seeking millions in damage against her brother, father, mother, aunt, uncle, friends, boyfriends .... (Id. at 4-5)
Plaintiff filed the Complaint in this action on July 21, (Dkt. No. 1) The next morning, cameramen confronted Wey outside his apartment building, and the New
published an article concerning Bouveng's allegations in the Complaint. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 234) at 725-26; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 867; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 242) at 1359; Court Ex. 2 (Stipulation))
Articles About Bouveng in The Blot Magazine At trial, redacted versions of six articles from The Blot Magazine - the online publication owned by FNL Media and published by Wey - were received into evidence. (PX 61, 63, 64, 85, 87, 98) The parties stipulated that or all of the statements contained within [these articles] appeared ... online at TheBlot.com on virtually a daily basis from late July until early June other than during the period August 28, to October 3, (Court Ex. 2 (Stipulation))
The first Blot article is entitled Swedish Girl Hanna Bouveng Swims in Criminal Hot (PX 61) The author is listed as which is a
Swedish "sugar daddies" "good times," So
Swedish pseudonym used by Wey and others at The Blot Magazine. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 234) at 674) The article contains the following statements, among others:
The pimp and the sex slave? Meet criminal James Chauvet ... and party girl Hanna Bouveng
the many young women aspiring to be the next Lindsay Lohan ... , a party girl named Hanna Bouveng ... stood out from the crowd vying for the attention of drug dealers and male patrons ready to pay for some
at a price.
Extortion artists, a failed million extortion attempt on a Wall financier Benjamin Wey ... In July in a mafia style, Hanna Bouveng ... blackmailed a famous investigative reporter and Wall Financier, Benjamin Wey .... The failed
million extortion attempt on Wey was orchestrated by a notorious Morelli Alters Ratner ... law firm, which apparently used the alcoholic Hanna Bouveng ... as free advertising.
Crimes and prostitution, the criminal James Chauvet ... and Hanna Bouveng .... Behind the flashy neon lights and loud rap music in New York's nightclubs are often problems of prostitution, illegal drug use, illegal gun possessions and shattered dreams of naive women visiting New York- many of whom are looking for for some sources say. long as the money is paid, the alcoholic Swedish girls like Hanna Bouveng ... may just jump on the donkeys. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation ... , James Chauvet was twice arrested and convicted of cocaine dealing and illegal gun possession ....
Hanna Bouveng ... , prostitution and massage parlors? [Hanna Bouveng's] aunt is Helena Bouveng ... , a junior member of the Parliament for the Vetlanda region. Readers may wonder to what extent the Hanna Bouveng ... affilitation with cocaine dealers may affect Helena Bouveng['s] ... already tough re-election campaign.
"HANNA BOUVENG, NEWS," "Sam Patterson." article
"street walker" "vixen" United
U.S. United States State
article Plaintiff "BUSTED"
"Wall Bouveng," "John Sterling." article
30 (PX 61) (emphasis in original)). The photographs of Plaintiff, Chauvet, Koluman, and Helena Bouveng. (Id.)
The second Blot article is entitled Fake Sexual Harassment Accuser Fled America, BREAKING and the author is listed as
(PX 63) This contains the following statements, among others: Hanna Bouveng ... is on the run. After blackmailing an investigative journalist and Wall Street financier Benjamin Wey ... with a failed million extortion plot, frivolous sexual harassment accuser Hanna Bouveng ... caught on the run fleeing America .... The timing of Hanna Bouveng[' s] sudden departure from America is highly suspicious. Legal experts say that the sudden departure of the Swedish
and Hanna Bouv[en]g ... from the States may have a lot to do with her lawyers David Ratner and Martha McBrayer at the ... law firm Morelli Alters Ratner ... , acting in to evade legal consequences, after she lied in a sworn affidavit submitted to the New York federal court on the same day when she fled America.
Immediate arrest? The Hanna Bouveng visa fraud: The People of United States fraudster Hanna Bouveng? Sources told the investigators led by a former NYPD police detective that Hanna Bouveng was in the States on illegal visa status. It's almost certain that she could be arrested by the government agents upon re[-en]try into the
.... [A] Department official confirmed the Hanna Bouveng's status would be a serious visa violation subject[ing] her to immediate arrest and deportation. (PX 63) (emphasis in original)) The includes several images, including a photograph of
and Chauvet with the word printed next to it in large, brightly colored block letters. at 1 )
The third Blot article is entitled Street Financier Fights Back at 'Fugitive' Hanna and the author is listed as (PX 64) This contains the following statements, among others:
Sweden "Sexual U.S.
United 10 U.S. 繤
Plaintiff "Criminal Bouveng."
"HANNA BOUVENG, CAUGHT COCAINE OUT OF SHAME,"
"Sam Patterson." (PX
"sexual harassment" Street
2014 Meet Hanna Bouveng ... , "sexual harassment" accuser fled America, a "fugitive" hiding in . ... Hanna Bouveng, harassment" accuser without evidence According [to] the State Department, a visitor terminated for visa violations may be barred from entering the States for as many as years. If [she] entered the illegally, Hanna Bouveng may be subject to immediate arrest deportation ....
harassment" sponsored by drug dealers, Hanna Bouveng's failed million extortion attempt. ... (PX 64 (emphasis in original)) The article also contains several images, including a photograph of and Chauvet with the caption: pimp James Chauvet and his girl Hanna
(Id. at 5)
The fourth Blot article is entitled WITH AND GUN CRIMINAL, KICKED AMERICA, SWEDISH and the author is listed as 85) This article contains the following statements, among others:
Hanna Bouveng, a Swedish party girl from Vetlanda, Sweden caught with entanglement with a twice arrested and convicted cocaine and gun criminal club promoter, boyfriend James Chauvet is on the run and has fled America, after blackmailing an American in a mafia-styled shakedown. Helena Bouveng, the Swedish fugitive Hanna Bouveng's aunt[,] has declined to comment on Hanna Bouveng's failed million extortion plot on an American journalist and finance executive.
A bizarre twist in the Swedish party girl Hanna Bouveng's frivolous
claim against a well respected Wall financier and investigative reporter Benjamin Wey, new development has just emerged: like a burglar stealing under the cover of dark clouds, the accuser of the chain smoker and party girl Hanna Bouveng fled America on July 25, and rushed back to her hometown of Vetlanda, Sweden.
''NYPD RECORD, CLUB PROMOTER JAMES CHAUVET, EXTORTIONIST BOUVENG SWIMS
HOT WATER," "Sam Patterson." (PX
NYPD FBI. PARTY BOUVENG, FROM YORK TO WAITRESS COFFEE SHOP, CAFE STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN
One Plaintiff "Cocaine Chauvet" "Cafe Bouveng" (kt. o(Plaintiffwith
Bouveng was terminated for abuse, hangover at work and her associates with a twice convicted drug and gun criminal Jam es Chauvet, according to the FBI's investigative report on James Chauvet. We terminated Hanna Bouveng's short 6 month internship with us and so did her independent visa sponsor firm, after their own investigations into Hanna Bouveng's said a New York Global Group executive. 85)
The fifth Blot article is entitled ARREST NIGHT
HANNA IN CRIMINAL and the author is listed as 87) This article contains the following statements, among others:
Editor's Note: James Chauvet 's extensive criminal records were verified by the
and the ...
GIRL HANNA NEW A
IN A LINNE .... In early Hanna Bouveng worked as an intern at a prominent New York company on Wall before she was fired in April for associations with convicted cocaine criminals, alcohol abuse, lies and fraud. According to various media reports, Hanna Bouveng attempted and failed to extort more than million out of her former employer.
Before the party girl Hanna Bouveng's termination by an American company, Hanna Bouveng defrauded JP Morgan Chase bank in New York by writing bad checks without any money in her bank account. ... (PX 87 at 6, 8 (emphasis in original))
This article contains a number of images, many of which are collages of photographs with words superimposed. of these images - a photograph of and Chauvet - has the words Dealer James and Linne Waitress Hanna
superimposed on it. at 3) Another image - a photograph
"Extortionist Bouveng," "Felon Caught," "FRAUD! Bouveng."
"FBI: LOVE COCAINE " "BUSTED! NYPD Bouveng" Mat
FRAUD PEOPLE OF
U.S. United States Chemme Koluman' s brothers, who operate Linne - includes the street address of Linne in Stockholm. (Id. at 5) Another image contains a collage of photographs of Plaintiff, Chauvet, and Helena Bouveng, and includes the words Hanna James Chauvet, Drug Dealer, Gun Criminal, Got and Helena (Id. at 11) This article also includes a photograph of Plaintiff and Chauvet with the words
IN ... and Criminal James Chauvet[,] Party Girl Hanna
superimposed. 14) Another image superimposes a photograph of Plaintiff and Chauvet on top of a photograph of a white powdery substance on a tabletop, with the caption
(Id. at 19) The last Blot article received in evidence - also authored by - contains the following statements, among others:
According to the FBI and the New York Police Department, Hanna Bouveng was deeply implicated in the James Cha[uv]et criminal acts: FBI criminal record James Chauvet, Hanna Bouveng, cocaine dealing, gun criminal, prisoner
Since being fired from an internship in New York, the Swedish party girl and cocaine dealer's honey Hanna Bouveng has attempted to extort billion out of an American financier and investigative journalist - Benjamin Wey.
VISA AGAINST HANNA BOUVENG: THE THE UNITED STATES FRAUDSTER HANNA Sources told the investigators led by a former police detective that Hanna Bouveng was in the States on illegal visa status. It's almost certain that she could be arrested by the government agents upon reentry into the
results "[f]rom Summer 2014
articles " if
2015, 2015. (hh, if 98 at 3, 4, 28-29 (emphasis in original)) This also contains a number of images discussed above, as well as a photograph of Plaintiff with the word and an image of a gavel superimposed. (Id. at 3)
At trial, the parties stipulated that Defendants caused comments to be added to some or all of the on TheBlot.com regarding Plaintiff which a) appeared under the names of people associated with Plaintiff such as her attorneys, friends or family, or under the names of well-known people and b) were not actually authored by the listed people. . . . [These] comments ... were caused to be added to the articles about Plaintiff in an attempt to have links to the articles appear as high as possible in the list of search results from a search engine. (Court Ex. 1 (Stipulation))
Defendants' use of such engine techniques (see Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 228) at 153, 194) ensured that Blot articles would appear high up on the list of search
when a subject of those articles was searched online. Indeed, until June if a user entered the name 'Hanna Bouveng' into Google.com, page one search results would yield links to on TheBlot.com containing stories about Plaintiff .... (Court Ex. 2 (Stipulation), 3)
The statements contained in the six Blot articles received in evidence - and all statements substantially similar to them -were removed from TheBlot.com in early June shortly before trial commenced on June 15, 1)
At trial, Plaintiff testified at length about the emotional distress she suffered as a result of these online articles:
Q. How did it make you feel to be called a sex slave to a pimp? A. Well, not good. It made me feel humiliated and it made me feel - like I didn't know ... how I was going to react to this because I couldn't understand it. And it made me feel embarrassed. If I would apply for a job ... my future employers would see this and what would they think about me[,] and people believe this.
lies everything. [I embarrassed and [it was] just kind of creepy and scary that anyone - that he - that Mr. Wey would write this. And it also made me angry ... [that] he just gets to continue to try to break me down or destroy my life. Q. of the articles] mentions that you are from the small town ofVetlanda. How did you feel that your home town was being published in this online magazine? A. Embarrassed, and I felt that Mr. Wey was really trying to come after me. He is trying to write about etlanda. In etlanda everyone knows everyone and everyone talks. It wouldn't be pleasant for me to go there because even though how absurd this article is, it ... portrays me like I'm some kind of prostitute and it made me feel like I can't go there. It doesn't make any sense that my former boss, he fired me and he keeps on writing this about me. It doesn't make any sense, what's going on here. It would be just too embarrassing to try to explain everything.
Q. . .. How did it make you feel that your aunt was now being mentioned in The Blot article? A. Not good. I mean, of course, this is not something  for a parliament member to be a part of and I just felt that ... he is trying to make her look bad and it's all because of me. He is trying to write about her, that she is some kind of cocaine dealer because of me. didn't have anything to do with me. I don't have anything to do with cocaine dealing. Again, this is scary that one would go through th[ ese] measures to do this. Q. Has your relationship with your aunt changed at all since the publication of The Blot articles? A. Q. Tell us about that. A. Well, we don't talk as much as before, and she didn't want to be involved. And she always calls me on my birthday. But she didn't do that this year, or last year.
Q .... How did it make you feel that The Blot was now publishing where you worked[, at Linne]? A. Not good. And it felt like an intent to destroy whatever I would do. I can't even serve coffee and he has to mention that name and try to drag it in all of his
1018-23, 1025-26) P. 2014
Sweden, Cafe Stockholm ilib 1016)
there." ilih) Cafe ilib) 2014, Cafe
"back entrance," "turned
ilih "gave phone." ilih Q. How do you feel about the address of where you are working being published on the Internet? A. I that he - I started to become paranoid. He is writing out ... the address, where I work. It made me feel that I'm being watched, that he has someone watching ....
Q. How do you feel your life has changed as a result of Mr. Wey's communications with your friends and family and the articles that are published on The Blot? A. I lost a lot of friends and people don't want to be around me anymore. I really don't want to go out and see people either. I don't want to meet people. I don't want to post stuff or anything because I feel I will get abused and I feel bad. He is stalking me. whatever I do, if I post it, I'm here at this he will know where I am .... I have applied for jobs, but I don't feel as confident as I did before .... [I]t's been a tough year. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at
Wey's August Trip to Sweden After moving back to Bouveng was hired to work as a waitress at Linne, the coffee shop owned by her friend Chemme Koluman' s family. at Plaintiff testified that she did not want to return to Vetlanda, because she that Mr. Wey knew where [she] come[ s] from, and he knew where [she] was, and [she] was scared that he was going to come there or that he was going to have someone following [her] As of the time oftrial, Plaintiff still worked as a waitress at Linne.
In August while Plaintiff was working at Linne, Wey appeared in the restaurant. Plaintiff had been standing with her towards the and then she
around and there [Wey] was, and he just said, [']wow,['] and ... my entire stomachjust froze. I (Id. at 1016-17) Plaintiff called the police, who came to the and then escorted Plaintiff home. at 1017-18) The police also [Plaintiff] an alarm
1018) Plaintiff "the
Sweden 2014 "to Bronx."
Stockholm Cafe (Ml "[n]o idea" Plaintiff Sweden Sweden 2014 860)
Ziv Personality ("MMPI'') ilil MMPI "assesses
Ziv's Plaintiff, "describe
ilil at If presses a button on the phone, nearest police car will ... get where [her] location is, and they will also be able to hear (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. at 1197-98)
Wey testified that he traveled to in August attend [events associated with] the 375th anniversary of the (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 857) Wey was invited to attend by the Bronx Chamber of Commerce. (Id.) Wey explained that he was in
for a boat tour with three friends, and that after the tour they stopped for lunch at Linne. at 859) Wey testified that he had that had returned to
(Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 234) at 654), and that he had not travelled to in August of with the intention of finding Bouveng. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at Q. Expert Testimony Concerning Bouveng's Mental
offered no expert testimony at trial concerning her mental health or emotional state, or the emotional distress she had suffered as a result of Defendants' actions.
Defendants called Dr. Barbara a psychiatrist -to offer an opinion as to whether had suffered any emotional injury as a result of Defendants' conduct. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 228) at 208-11) interviewed Bouveng and administered the Minnesota Multiphasic Inventory test to her. at 211) The whether [the subject is suffering from a] psychiatric illness, [as well as the individual's] interpersonal functioning, their interpersonal style, their degree of openness, rand]
(Id. at 211-12) During interview of Bouveng did not any psychiatric or psychological or emotional (Id. at 224) did not report that she was depressed, had nightmares, had lost weight, or that she had not been able to apply for jobs.
"consistent" Plaintiff Ziv "that problems." (Ish)
Ziv Plaintiff "had
life." (1sh Ziv "self-directed self-motivated," "vision,"
Oslo, (ill. She She She's
On Plaintiff 2015 Ziv Plaintiff"was York," "was life." Ziv "if
"created at 230) did not describe any emotional distress[;] [s]he didn't describe that she was depressed ... [,]anxious[, or] ... unhappy[;] [s]he didn't describe really any psychiatric or emotional (Id. at 212) Moreover, nothing in what Bouveng told suggested that she suffered from anxiety, [or] as a result of Defendants' conduct. (Id.) The results of the MMPI were with the interview, in that neither the interview nor the test results indicated that was suffering from psychiatric problems. (Id. at 224) concluded [Bouveng] had no psychiatric
testified that - before the events that give rise to this case - a good understanding ofherself1,] ... of what her desires were, [and] of how she wanted to proceed with her at 222) noted that - throughout her life- Bouveng has always been [and] and has pursued her whether that involved studying in Hong Kong, obtaining multiple jobs in or moving to New York at 222-23):
knows what she wants. knows how to pursue it. been very independent from a very early age and has navigated in a pretty complex world. Going to Hong Kong, going to Norway, coming to the And she does this all on her own .... I found her to be a strong, independent, resourceful, resilient individual. (Id. at 223)
the basis of her interview of in April and the results of the MMPI test, concluded that functioning as she had prior to coming to New
and functioning as she had her entire (Id. at 224) opined that you looked at her now versus looking at her two years ago[,] essentially you're seeing the same
Although told that she felt paranoid because Wey had investigators following her, and that Wey a really big scar in [her] life [that she is] still working
with," Ziv "moved life,"
"in way." Ziv "subclinical" "psychiatric 縠 " ilih "upset
concern." ilih Ziv
"is [Ziv' problems." ilih
ilih Ziv "was user," "the [S]he
go." Ziv "was posted," "is
DISCUSSION MOTIONS FOR AS OF OR FOR AS TO
NYSHRL NYSHRL concluded that Plaintiff had on with her and that her emotional distress had not continued an ongoing (Id. at 231, 243)
found that Plaintiff was not suffering from even conditions, which are not conditions se, but ... conditions that are ... just troubles ....
at 227) Instead, Plaintiff was the way that people get upset ... [or] disappointed .. . when something bad happens. It doesn't rise to the level of clinical at 239) noted that Plaintiff had seen a therapist only once - in March 2015 - and that Plaintiffs failure to seek other counseling consistent with s] finding that [Plaintiff doesn't] have [psychiatric] at 224)
With respect to The Blot articles, testified that Plaintiff was upset that the lead results of Google searches concerning her name were headlines and images from Blot articles.
at 251-53) testified that Plaintiff upset about being called a prostitute or a drug
and about [online] presence of these articles .... was upset that ... [Wey] seemed like the dog with the bone, like he wouldn't let (Id. at 253) further testified that although Plaintiff upset when [the Blot articles] were first she relieved that [they are] no longer on the at 253, 255)
I. DEFENDANTS' JUDGMENT A MATTER
LAW A NEW TRIAL LIABILITY A. Legal Standards
Defendants have moved for judgment as a matter oflaw on Plaintiffs (1) quid pro quo sexual harassment claims under the and the NYCHRL; (2) retaliation claims under the and the NYCHRL; and (3) defamation claim. (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 14-43)
P. 50 "well established":
Stores, 2008) Second "faces bar." Coll., 2001).
50 "may verdict," "a
'"the justice,"' "against evidence." Song
40 The standard for granting judgment as a matter oflaw under Fed. R. Civ. is
Judgment as a matter of law may not properly be granted under Rule unless the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the opposing party, is insufficient to permit a reasonable juror to find in her favor. In deciding such a motion, the court must give deference to all credibility determinations and reasonable inferences of the jury, and it may not itself weigh the credibility of witnesses or consider the weight of the evidence. Thus, judgment as a matter oflaw should not be granted unless
( 1) there is such a complete absence of evidence supporting the verdict that
the jury's findings could only have been the result of sheer surmise and conjecture, or (2) there is such an overwhelming amount of evidence in favor of the movant
that reasonable and fair minded [persons] could not arrive at a verdict against [the movant]. Galdieri-Ambrosini v. Nat'l Realty & Dev. Corp., 136 F.3d 276, 289 (2d Cir. 1998) (internal citations omitted); see also Brady v. Wal-Mart Inc., 531F.3d127, 133-34 (2d Cir. (same). The Circuit has noted that a party moving for judgment as a matter oflaw a high Lavin-McEleney v. Marist 239 F.3d 476, 479 (2d Cir.
Defendants' motion for a new trial on liability under Fed. R. Civ. 59(a)(l)(A) is subject to a
less stringent standard than Rule in two significant respects: (1) a new trial under Rule 59(a) be granted even if there is substantial evidence supporting the jury's and (2) trial judge is free to weigh the evidence himself, and need not view it in the light most favorable to the verdict DLC Mgmt. Corp. v. Town of Hyde 163 F.3d 124, 133-34 (2d Cir. 1998). That being said, for a district court to order a new trial under Rule 59(a), it must conclude that jury has reached a seriously erroneous result or ... the verdict is a miscarriage of i.e., it must view the jury's verdict as
the weight of the Id. at 133 (quoting v. Ives Labs., Inc., 957 F.2d (2d Cir. 1992) (internal citations omitted)). Manley v. AmBase Corp., 337 F.3d 237, 244-45 (2d Cir.
NYSHRL Sexual "Quid
Union Sch. Supp. 108 2011) Pacifica 07 CV
50 Univ., "'Tangible
benefits.'" Supp. 108 2011 "[E]mployment
harassment]." Objective Solutions, Int'l, Supp. 380 (S.D.N.Y. 2000).
NYSHRL Plaintiff NYSHRL NYSHRL (See
under B. Analysis
1. and NYCHRL Quid Pro Quo Harassment Claims
pro quo sexual harassment occurs 'when submission to or rejection of improper or unwelcome sexual conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual. Alexander v. Westbury Free Dist., 829 F.
2d 89, (E.D.N.Y. (quoting.Clarke v. Foundation, WBAI, No. 4605(FB), WL 4356085, at *9 (E.D.N.Y. 16, 2011)). ''The issue in a quid pro quo case is whether the supervisor has expressly or tacitly linked tangible job benefits to the acceptance or rejection of sexual advances; a quid pro quo claim is made out whether the employee rejects the advances and suffers the consequences or submits to the advances in order to avoid those Father Belle Cmty. Ctr. v. New York Div. of Human Rights on Complaint of King, 221 A.D.2d 44, (4th Dept. 1996) (citing Karibian v. Columbia 14 F.3d 773, 778 (2d Cir. 1994)). employment actions' include 'a significant change in employment status, such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or a decision causing a significant change in Alexander, 829 F. 2d at (quoting Clarke, WL 4356085, at *9). decisions predicated upon the existence or termination of consensual romantic relationships[, however,] do not [constitute quid pro quo sexual Kahn v. 86 F. 2d 377, The jury was so instructed, (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 244) at 1595-98), and Defendants have not challenged the Court's charge.
Although aware that different legal standards apply to claims under the and the NYCHRL, agreed that the more narrow standard would apply to both her
sexual harassment claim and her NYCHRL sexual harassment claim. Trial Tr. 1165-66) Accordingly, this Court will analyze the jury's verdict based on the standard for quid pro guo sexual harassment the NYSHRL.
dignity."' Accordingly, Plaintiff can prevail on her quid pro quo sexual harassment claims by proving either that (1) she submitted to Wey' s unwelcome sexual advances in order to avoid employment-related consequences (the or (2) she rejected Wey's unwelcome sexual advances and suffered employment-related consequences as a result (the
(See Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 14-15) a. Submission Theory Defendants argue that a verdict based on a theory is unsupportable because the jury also found against Plaintiff on her claims for assault and and o ]n those findings, the jury had to conclude that if sexual contact actually occurred, it was not harmful or offensive to (Id. at 15 (emphasis in original)) Defendants contend that
jury could not simultaneously find, on the sexual harassment claim, that Plaintiff had submitted to sex that was (Id.)
With respect to Plaintiffs battery claim against Wey, this Court instructed the jury that person who intentionally touches another person, without that person's consent, and thereby causes an offensive bodily contact, commits battery .... An offensive bodily contact is one that is done for the purpose of harming another or one that off ends a reasonable sense of personal dignity, or one that is otherwise (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 244) at Defendants have not challenged this charge, but they argue that n Jo reasonable jury could conclude - and it would be an erroneous result to conclude - that Plaintiff submitted to an unwelcome sexual advance by having sexual relations, yet did not suffer any 'offensive bodily contact' that offended her 'personal (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 16 (emphasis in original))
105, 108 ("A
one'"). 18 Plaintiff
RSquared Supp. Zant 80 708,
VII" battery claim and her submission theory quid pro quo sexual harassment claim do not rise and fall together, because the elements of these causes of action are different. In order to find Wey liable for battery, the jury had to find that Wey intentionally touched in an offensive way without her consent. See Nat. Ins. Co. v. Waterfront New York Realty Corp., 994 F.2d (2d Cir. 1993) 'battery' is an intentional wrongful physical contact with another person without (emphasis added) (citations omitted)). By contrast, in order to prevail on her quid pro quo sexual harassment claims, was not required to prove that her sexual relations with Wey were non- consensual. fact that sex-related conduct was 'voluntary,' in the sense that the complainant was not forced to participate against her will, is not a defense to a sexual harassment suit .... The gravamen of any sexual harassment claim is that the alleged sexual advances were
Meritor Sav. Bank, FSB v. Vinson, 477 57, 68 (1986) (in a Title VII sexual harassment case, rejecting district court's finding that no actionable harassment occurred because, [plaintiff] and [her supervisor] did engage in an intimate or sexual relationship ... , that relationship was a voluntary Accordingly, ajury finding that Wey did not commit battery - because agreed to have sexual intercourse with him - is not inconsistent with the jury's verdict finding Wey liable on quid pro quo sexual harassment claims.
Quid pro quo sexual harassment claims under the NYSHRL and Title VII are governed by the same standard. Figueroa v. NY, Inc., 89 F. 3d 484, 489-90 (E.D.N.Y. 2015); see also Van v. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, F.3d 715 (2d Cir. 1996) (noting, in the context of a hostile work environment claim, that York courts require the same standard of proof for claims brought under the [Human Rights Law] as those brought under Title (citations omitted)).
Plaintiff 2013 "didn't anything"
繳 Plaintiff M Plaintiff
Plaintiff "by unwelcome." U.S.
Plaintiff "didn't him." Plaintiff"saw people," "he
visa." "couldn't While needed to prove that Wey's conduct towards her was non consensual in order to prevail on her battery claim, correct inquiry [for her sexual harassment claims] is whether by her conduct indicated that the alleged sexual advances were unwelcome, not whether her actual participation in sexual intercourse was
or consensual. Id. Based on the evidence at trial, a reasonable jury could conclude that Wey's sexual advances towards were unwelcome, and that he knew they were unwelcome.
testified that, during their November trip to Boston, she told Wey that she want to do when he attempted to have sex with her, and that she slept on the couch the following night to avoid advances. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 921, 923) . Similarly, during their trip to Dubai, ignored Wey and pretended to be asleep when he attempted to have sex with her. at 931) also testified that, during their second sexual encounter, she pulled away when Wey ''tried to kiss (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 964) also testified that she did not kiss Wey, hug him, or reciprocate in any way when they had sex. (Id.) Accordingly, a reasonable jury could find that her conduct indicated that the alleged sexual advances were Meritor, 477 at 68.
A reasonable jury could also conclude that submitted to Wey' s unwelcome sexual advances in order to protect her job at NYGG. testified that she was afraid to reject Wey's advances because she want to upset (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 931) how he could get [en]raged at the office[,] [t]hat he would scream to
and she thought that if she objected to Wey's sexual advances would get angry, kick [her] out or ... fire [her], revoke [her] (Id. at 931-32; see also id. at 936 (she just say no ... [because] he would definitely fire [her]. He would kick [her] out of the
Plaintiff "no " (ilL
Plaintiff "submission theory"
"[d]amages occurred." Supp. 560 2012) Supp.
2008) ("[Plaintiff] damages.")). Plaintiff
me." Plaintiff "[b]lank."
Patrolmen's 310 Cir. 2002) apartment. He would ... revoke [her] visa.)) also referenced her early conversation with Wey, in which he told her that one ever said no to him .... at 936)
Defendants also argue that failed to prove that she suffered damages in connection with her quid pro quo sexual harassment claim. (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 23-26) They argue that testimony about the emotional distress she suffered after submitting to Wey' s sexual advances is insufficient.
It is true that for emotional distress ... cannot be assumed simply because discrimination has MacMillan v. Millennium Broadway Hotel, 873 F. 2d 546, (S.D.N.Y. (citing Lopes v. Caffe Centrale LLC, 548 F. 2d 47, 55 (S.D.N.Y. must prove [her] entitlement to compensatory Here, however, offered ample evidence as to the emotional distress she suffered as a result of having to submit to Wey's unwelcome sexual advances. testified that, after she and Wey had sex for the first time, she so used and weak and I was so ashamed that I let this happen. That I've been through my entire life and nothing like this has ever happened. And everything that I've ever been, strong, independent, he just took that away from (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 934) testified that when they had sex again, she felt (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 964) After two subsequent sexual encounters, more and more weak. That I didn't mean anything. That everything that I felt and thought, that it didn't matter. I felt (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 935) Based on this testimony, a reasonable jury could conclude that suffered some amount of emotional distress damages as a result of having to submit to Wey's sexual advances. 19
Defendants cite Benevolent Ass'n of City of New York v. City of New York, F.3d 43, 55 (2d for the proposition that
"[ unsupportable" "[ Plaintiffs
"tangible action" Plaintiff
"tangible actions" "[t]he
Patrolmen's 310 ·jury Plaintiffs
"objective circumstances" CEO Street Plaintiffs Plaintiff, U.S.
injury."' Street Partners, 09 7821(RPP), 2012 (S.D.N.Y. Olsen
Supp. 2009)); Supp. Press 08 2009
2009). b. Rejection Theory Defendants argue that the r ]ejection theory [of quid pro quo sexual harassment] is here, because t ]he only evidence of rejections of sexual advances took place in and could not have been the cause of [her] termination [on April 22, 2014] (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 15) Defendants further argue that the damages evidence is insufficient under a (Id.)
As an initial matter, this Court finds that the only employment on which can base her rejection theory quid pro quo sexual harassment claim is the termination of her employment at NYGG on April 22, 2014. At trial, this Court ruled that
one-week financial training with Baxter and her temporary assignment at Cambridge Alliance Capital do not constitute employment because evidence does
[a] plaintiffs subjective testimony, standing alone, is generally insufficient to sustain an award of emotional distress damages. Rather, the plaintiffs testimony of emotional injury must be substantiated by other evidence that such an injury occurred, such as the testimony of witnesses to the plaintiffs distress, or the objective circumstances of the violation itself.
Benevolent Ass'n, F.3d at 55 (internal citations omitted). Here, a reasonable could conclude that - in addition to testimony about the emotional distress she suffered after her sexual encounters with Wey - the circumstances of the warrant some amount of emotional distress damages. Here, the include that Wey, a 43-year old married father of three and the of a Wall investment firm - who controlled not only employment but also her visa status - pressured
a twenty-five year old foreign student working in her first job, into having sex with him as a condition of her employment. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 487, 489-90; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 234) at 758; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 896; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 242) at 1407) In any event, as courts in this Circuit have explained, emotional distress awards are appropriate even where evidence of mental suffering is generally limited to the testimony of the plaintiff, who describes his or her injury in vague or conclusory terms, without relating either the severity or consequences of the Caravantes v. 53rd LLC, No. Civ.
WL 3631276, at *22 Aug. 23, 2012) (quoting v. Cnty. of Nassau, 615 F. 2d 35, 46-47 (E.D.N.Y. see also MacMillan, 873 F. 2d at 560-61; v. Concord Mortg. Corp, No. Civ. 9497(PKC)(GWG), WL 6758998, at *7 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 7,
Supp. (S.D.N. 2003))) "pouty companionship," "increasing nervous'"
2014 Opp. 270) 10,
230) "tangible actions." Such '"hiring,
benefits."' See 2005)
Plaintiff 2014, "wanted sex." 240) 1205) Plaintiff "told no."
Plaintiffs "to face" 2014, not establish that either [of these assignments] 'caused a substantial detriment to [P]laintiff's employment (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 242) at 1515 (citing Gonzalez v. Beth Israel Med. Ctr., 262 F. 2d 342, 351 Y. Moreover, Plaintiffs testimony that Wey was (1) and increasingly aggressive at work if [Plaintiff] spurned his
and (2) [Plaintiffs] workload and 'making her very in early (see Pltf. Br. (Dkt. No. at 12 (citing Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 959, 962; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. at 337)), does not constitute evidence of employment
conduct is not comparable to firing, failing to promote, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, or decision[s] causing a significant change in
Mormal v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 364 F.3d 54, 57-58 (2d Cir. (quoting Burlington Indus., Inc. v. Ellerth, 524 742, 761 (1998)). Accordingly, under a rejection theory of quid pro quo sexual harassment, was required to prove that she rejected Wey's sexual advances, and that he terminated her employment, at least in part, because she had rejected his advances.
There is evidence that after Plaintiff and Wey had sex four times during January she explicitly rejected his requests for sex, and took action to ensure that they would not have sex again. testified that, on February 2, Wey came to her apartment and told her he to have (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. at him (Id.) And over the next several months, began spending her spare time with Chauvet and Koluman, in order to ensure that Wey would not be able to pressure her to have sex again. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 965)
Despite rejection of Wey his on February 2, and the steps she took to avoid spending time with him outside of work, Wey continued to pursue her.
2014 Plaintiff "he
[her]." Plaintiff "stick him," "the Street." Plaintiff Plaintiff "if
else." iliU "he
PX Plaintiff's "did her?," Plaintiff
"you vjsa Group." 240)
of"cheating February." (PX 105 Indeed, on April 21, - the day before her termination - Wey told that always wanted to see [her]. He always wanted to spend time with [her]. He wanted to have sex with [her]. He wanted to hug [her]. He wanted to kiss (Id. at 978) Wey urged to
close to because he was top dog on Wall (Id.) He also made clear to
that there would be consequences if she continued to reject his advances: Wey told that [she] didn't start to spend more time with him he would have to start to look for someone Wey also set a deadline for Bouveng to comply: said that if [she did not] show him tangible love[,] he's kicking [her] out by August (Id. at 979)
The next morning, Wey went to apartment and found James Chauvet in her bed. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 517-18; see also 24 (email from Wey to father)) Wey asked Chauvet, you fuck and then immediately called down from the offices of Cambridge Alliance Capital, screaming fucking bitch. I'm gonna revoke your today. I want you out of the apartment today. You're no longer hired by New York Global (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 979-80; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. at 1227-28)
A reasonable jury could conclude that Wey fired when it became clear to him not only that she had rejected his sexual advances, but indeed had moved on to another man. Finding Chauvet in Bouveng's bed confirmed for Wey that Bouveng would not be succumbing to his sexual advances in the future. Indeed, Wey saw Bouveng' s relationship with Chau vet as a
He told Bouveng' s friend Chemme Koluman on the day of Bouveng' s firing that Bouveng had betrayed him (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 981), and in a call with Bouveng a few days later, Wey accused her on [him] since the end of at 4) In
Group." 979-80) "in shock." ilil 980) Other
(See "own unwarranted," "failed
She sum, there is ample evidence here that Wey terminated Bouveng's employment in retaliation for her sexual rejection of him. 20
Defendants also argue that offered no evidence at trial that she suffered emotional distress from being (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 23) (emphasis in original) In support of this argument, Defendants cite Plaintiffs testimony that, after she was fired and thrown out of her apartment, she (Id. (citing Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 984)) Despite Plaintiffs testimony that she after she was fired, a reasonable jury could conclude - based on the evidence at trial - that Plaintiff suffered significant emotional distress as a result of her termination from NYGG.
As an initial matter, the circumstances of the [termination] itself' indicate that it likely caused emotional distress. Patrolmen's, F.3d at 55. The firing came without warning, immediately after Wey found Chauvet in Bouveng's bed. Wey told Plaintiff that he had just been at her apartment and found Chauvet, and then he screamed at her,
fucking bitch. I'm gonna revoke your visa today. I want you out of the apartment today. You're no longer hired by New York Global (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at Wey's actions left Plaintiff at
witnesses corroborated Bouveng's account of her emotional distress. Wey testified that Plaintiff was and as a result of her termination. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No.
Defendants argue that Plaintiff's rejection of Wey's sexual advances was not sufficiently clear, citing Bartle v. Mercado, 235 A.D.2d 651, 654 (1st Dept. 1997). Def. Reply Br. (Dkt. No. 284) at 12) In Bartle, the court found that the plaintiffs testimony evinces that she never communicated, by words or behavior, that [her boss's] contacts were uninvited, offensive or and that she to openly communicate the 'unwelcomeness' of these contacts to [her Bartle, 235 A.D.2d at 654. Here, however, there is evidence that Plaintiff explicitly told Wey that she did not want to have sex with him. also communicated to Wey - through her behavior - that she did not want to spend time with him outside of work.
Plaintiffs Plaintiff "was state," "[s]he
(See 900-01) Plaintiff Sweden
action.'" Shapiro P.C., 10, 2013) Syracuse, 670 2012)). "[T]o
action." 102, 2013)
50 234) at 623-24) Yonatan Weiss - co-worker- testified that, several days after her termination - in a stressful because [had been] kicked out of her apartment and lost her job and was worried she would get kicked out of the (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 228) at 272-73) termination from NYGG also upended her dreams of working in marketing or public relations in New York. id. at 245-46; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at As a result of the termination, returned to and took a job as a waitress in a coffee shop, cleaning dishes and serving coffee, which was not her career goal.
Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 228) at 245; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at In sum, there was ample evidence that Bouveng suffered emotional distress as a result of her termination from NYGG.
Defendants' motion for judgment as a matter oflaw on quid pro quo sexual harassment claims will be denied. To the extent that Defendants seek a new trial as to liability on these claims, that motion will likewise be denied.
2. and NYCHRL Retaliation Claims To prevail on a retaliation claim under the a demonstrate that '(1) she engaged in protected activity; (2) the employer was aware of that activity; (3) the employee suffered a materially adverse action; and (4) there was a causal connection between the protected activity and that adverse Kelly v. Howard I. & Associates Consulting Engineers, 716 F.3d 14 (2d Cir. (quoting Lore v. City of
F.3d 127, 157 (2d Cir. prevail on a retaliation claim under the NYCHRL, the plaintiff must show that she took an action opposing her employer's discrimination, and that, as a result, the employer engaged in conduct that was reasonably likely to deter a person from engaging in such Mihalik v. Credit Agricole Cheuvreux N. Am., Inc., 715 F.3d 112 (2d Cir. (citations omitted).
Plaintiff "protected activity,"
Under "protected activity"
existed.'" 303 2004) United Postal 203, 209 2005). 1601-02,
"false conduct." (14,_
Defendants argue that did not prove that she engaged in a and thus both her NYSHRL and NYCHRL retaliation claims fail. (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 26-31) both statutes, refers to, inter alia, (1) opposition to any statutorily prohibited discrimination, and (2) the commencement of a civil action alleging the commission of an act that would constitute statutorily prohibited discrimination. See N. Y. Exec. Law§ 296(7); New York City Admin. Code§ 8-107(7). establish that [her] activity is protected, [a plaintiff] 'need not prove the merit of [her] underlying discrimination complaint, but only that [ s ]he was acting under a good faith, reasonable belief that that a violation Knight v. City of New York, F. Supp. 2d 485, 496 (S.D.N.Y. (quoting Sumner v.
States Serv., 899 F.2d (2d Cir. 1990)), aff d, 147 F. App'x 221 (2d Cir. Thejury was so instructed (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 244) at 1612), and Defendants have not challenged the Court's charge.
At trial, contended that she engaged in protected activity under both statutes when (1) her lawyer sent a letter to Wey on April 29, 2014, threatening litigation against Wey (DX X); (2) her lawyer emailed a draft complaint to Wey on May 7, (DX YI, Y3); and (3) she filed the Complaint on July 21, (Dkt. No. 1). (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 244) at 1602, 1612) Defendants argue that all of these communications as a matter of law, exactly the kind of unsupportable and salacious activities that fail to deserve 'protected activity' status, warranting judgment as a matter oflaw on the retaliation (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 27) Defendants' argument is premised on the notion that the letter, email, and complaint include
allegations of forced sexual at 27-31)
2014 2014 initial Plaintiffs 2014 "forced sex" "rape." (See 2014 Plaintiff
2014 "protected activity" "false
conduct" - Plaintiffs 2014 "forced sex" "rape," "plied Plaintiff
him." ,-i Plaintiff
"physical force." 1063; Plaintiff U4.: "plied"
"protected activity." a. April 29, Demand Letter and
May 7, Email with Draft Complaint As an matter, counsel's April 29, letter says nothing about or DX X) Indeed, Wey conceded at trial that nothing in the April 29, letter made Wey think that was accusing him of forcing her to have sex with him. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 483-87; see also DX X) Accordingly, Defendants' argument that the April 29, letter does not constitute - because it contains allegations of forced sexual is rejected.
counsel's May 7, email (DX Y) says nothing about or but the draft complaint attached to the email includes allegations that Wey
Hanna Bouveng with alcohol and, once she was intoxicated, forced her to have sexual intercourse with (DX Y3 at 62) At trial, testified that she and Wey had sex on four occasions, but that none of these sexual interactions involved Wey's use of (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at see also Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 934; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 964). And although testified that she and Wey drank wine before having sex on one occasion at 963-64), she did not testify that he her with alcohol or that she was intoxicated.
Defendants argue that the inconsistencies between the allegations in draft complaint and her testimony at trial mandates a finding that the sending of the draft complaint to Wey does not constitute (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 28-29) However, Defendants cite no case in which a court has held that the submission of a draft complaint to an employer does not constitute protected activity, because the draft complaint
Shapiro 10, 2013),
Second VII NYSHRL, "[a]n
Plaintiff either." 22
"forced Plaintiff included certain factual allegations that were not proven at trial. 21
Kelly v. Howard I. & Assocs. Consulting Eng'rs, 716 F.3d 14 (2d Cir. cited by Defendants, (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 28-29), does not stand for that proposition. In Kelly, the Circuit stated that, under Title and the employee's complaint may qualify as protected activity . . . so long as the employee has a good faith, reasonable belief that the underlying challenged actions of the employer violated the Kelly, 716 F.3d at 14 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); see also Galdieri-Ambrosini, 136 F.3d at 292. Defendants have not argued that
lacked a good faith, reasonable belief that Wey's actions constituted quid pro quo sexual harassment under the and NYCHRL. The fact that included allegations in her draft complaint that were not proven at trial says nothing about whether reasonably believed that Wey's actions constituted sexual harassment under the law. Accordingly, this Court concludes that a reasonable jury could have found that counsel's May 7, email and the attached draft complaint constitute a protected activity under the and NYCHRL.
b. July 21, Complaint Defendants argue that inclusion of the same false allegations of forced sexual conduct in her Complaint render the filing of that pleading a non-protected activity as
(Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 29) They also complain that are many other allegations included in the Complaint - salacious and embarrassing ones plainly targeting Mr. Wey's wife and family - that did not even attempt to prove at trial (Id.)
Nor would such a rule make sense. Complaints often contain a number of factual allegations that are not proven at trial, even where the claims set forth in those complaints are accepted by the jury. 22
In this regard, Defendants list Complaint allegations stating that Wey to wear sexy clothing in the office"; that Wey "had [negatively] commented about his marriage ...
LLP, [100 Supp. 302 (S.D.N.Y. 2015)]." 30-31)
"filed complaint" "was ordinary." "every detail" "was
seen." 100 Supp. 310. "represented
press." "[i]fthe VII
"the status." "[i]f'
"character pleadings" VII NYSHRL
daily"'; "close Plaintiff: "Ben you."' 29-30) Defendants argue that, with the knowingly false accusation of forced sexual relations,
behavior in filing the July 21 Complaint presents a compelling case for denying 'protected activity' status, much like the case before Judge Hellerstein in Marchuk v. Faruqi & Faruqi, F. 3d (Id. at
In Marchuk, plaintiff a 22-page [sexual harassment] that anything but The pleading contained salacious and as replete with incendiary language and vituperative attacks as any complaint [the court] [had] Marchuk, F. 3d at The court also stated that, because plaintiff was by experienced counsel who know well what a pleading should contain, ... the decision to file this unprofessional document ... reflects an intent to extend the litigation from the courts to the
Id. The court concluded that character of pleadings can remove a Title lawsuit's 'protected activity' status, then this pleading did Id.
Marchuk provides no support for Defendants' argument here, because the Marchuk court did not hold that character of pleadings can remove a ... lawsuit's protected activity Indeed, the court's use of the word makes clear that it was asking a rhetorical question, and not announcing a new rule oflaw. Moreover, the court did not rely on the of the in finding against the plaintiff on her Title and retaliation claims; instead, it concluded that plaintiff had not suffered an adverse employment action. Id. at 311. The Marchuk plaintiffs NYCHRL retaliation claim failed because she had not suffered an adverse employment action and could not recover any damages. Id. at 312-13.
'approximately and that Wey's friend Talman Harris told loves
(Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at
Plaintiff 摥晡浡瑩潮縠 (See 2015 200)
Pltf. Pre-Trial "The
woman."' Stem Supp. (S.D.N.Y. 2009) 80 Plaintiff
1,800 Blot 縠 (See 2015
Blot (See PX
ill'.! Plaintiff "concem[s]
Plaintiff; "substantially true"; In sum, Defendants have not demonstrated that the filing of a sexual harassment complaint loses its status as a where the complaint contains factual allegations that are not proven at trial.
Defendants' motion for judgment as a matter oflaw on and NYCHRL retaliation claims is denied. To the extent that Defendants seek a new trial as to
on these claims, that motion will likewise be denied.
3. Defamation Claim
agreed prior to trial to limit her defamation claim to statements that constitute se under New York law. June 5, Conf. Tr. (Dkt. No. at 16-17, 23-24; Br. (Dkt. No. 198) at 2) New York Court of Appeals has recognized four categories of statements as se: ( 1) those that accuse the plaintiff of a serious crime; (2) those that 'tend to injure another in his or her trade, business or profession'; (3) those that accuse the plaintiff of having a 'loathsome disease'; or ( 4) and those that impute 'unchastity to a v. Cosby, 645 F. 2d 258, 288
(citing Liberman v. Gelstein, N.Y.2d 429, 435 (1992)). initially identified approximately statements from articles that she argued constituted defamation se.
June 11, Conf. Tr. (Dkt. No. 216) at 25-36; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 226) at 4-9; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 228) at 124-31) subsequently agreed to narrow her proof to 66 allegedly defamatory statements contained in six articles. 61; 63; 64; 85; 87; and 98)
In addition to proving that each statement constitutes defamation se, was required to prove that (1) the statement the plaintiff'; (2) one or more of the Defendants communicated the statement to someone other than (3) the statement is false- i.e., not (4) one or more of the Defendants acted at least negligently
"reference fraud," "[a]s
accurate." (Isl Plaintiff
2014 2014 YI, Y3),
"grossly irresponsible" 1502-03),
Intl., "plaintiff story");
270 2001) ("declin[ing]
applicable" "New York
80 N.Y.2d "content with" "not damages." in publishing the and (5) Plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the publication of the statement. 24
See Celle v. Filipino Reporter Enterprises Inc., F.3d 163, 176 (2d Cir. (citations omitted). The jury was so instructed. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 244) at 1620-27)
Defendants argue that 39 of the 66 allegedly defamatory statements in evidence Plaintiff's involvement in extortion, visa fraud, or bank and that, to extortion and bank fraud, Plaintiff simply failed to present evidence sufficient to establish that those statements were (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 31-32) Defendants further argue that,
to all three categories, Plaintiff did not present evidence sufficient to establish that it was negligent for Defendants to have concluded that the statements were at 32)
a. Statements Accusing of Extortion Defendants argue that Plaintiffs counsel's April 29, letter to Wey (DX X), and Plaintiff's counsel's May 7, email to Wey attaching a draft complaint (DX constitute extortion, and that accordingly their statements accusing Plaintiff of extortion are not false, and in any event they did not act negligently in publishing statements accusing Plaintiff of
This Court rejected Defendants' argument (Dkt. No. 213 at 8-12) that a
standard applied (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 242) at and instructed the jury using a negligence standard. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 244) at 1626). See Krauss v. Globe 251 A.D.2d 191, 194 (1st Dept. 1998) (in a case involving a private plaintiff and a matter of private concern, need show only that defendants were negligent in publishing the see also Albert v. Loksen, 239 F.3d 256, n.12, 271 (2d Cir. to decide whether ... negligence or some other level of fault is in a defamation action involving a private plaintiff and a matter of private concern). 24
law has long recognized that '[w]hen statements fall within' established categories of per se defamation, 'the law presumes that damages will result, and they need not be alleged or Zherka v. Amicone, 634 F.3d 642, 645 (2d Cir. (footnote omitted) (quoting Liberman, at 435). Plaintiff's counsel stated at the charge conference, however, that he was a charge that did include any language on presumed
(Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 244) at 1528) Accordingly, the jury was instructed that Plaintiff was required to prove actual damages in order to recover on her defamation claim. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 244) at 1629)
U.S.C. "extortion" "the
right." U.S.C. "Threats
Act]." Supp. (S.D.N.Y. 2001); 03 6241-CJS-JWF, 2005 1006030, 2005) ("Threats
Act]." Supp. "[A]
courts."' Supp. (S.D.N.Y. 2014) Supp. (S.D.N.Y. 2014)). extortion. (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 34-38) Defendants contend that is beyond dispute, under the trial evidence, that and her attorneys sent emails and a draft complaint to Mr. Wey that falls not only within a layman's understanding of what 'extortion' and 'blackmail' are, but within the statutory definition as at 36)
i. Applicable Law The Hobbs Act-18 § 1951-and 18 § 875(d) criminalize extortion. The Hobbs Act provides:
[w]hoever in any way or degree obstructs, delays, or affects commerce or the movement of any article or commodity in commerce, by robbery or extortion or attempts or conspires so to do ... shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both. 18 § 1951 (a). The Hobbs Act defines as obtaining of property from another, with his consent, induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official 18 § 1951 (b )(2).
of litigation, and even threats of meritless litigation or the actual pursuit of such litigation, have been held not to constitute acts of extortion [under the Hobbs G.I. Holdings, Inc. v. Baron & Budd, 179 F. 2d 233, 259 see also DirecTV, Inc. v. Lewis, No. Civ. WL at *5 (W.D.N.Y. Apr. 29,
of litigation, even economically ruinous litigation, even unmeritorious litigation, do not constitute extortion [under the Hobbs (citing G.I. Holdings, Inc., 179 F. 2d at 259)).
lawsuit filed by lawful means is not 'wrongful,' as defined by the Hobbs Act, and courts would be wary of holding that 'the filing of a meritless lawsuit is ... extortionate lest every unsuccessful lawsuit lead to an extortion claim and thus chill resort to the Kerik v. Tacopina, 64 F. 3d 542 (quoting Chevron Corp. v. Donziger, 974 F.
2d 362, 577
than Where a lawsuit is pursued by lawful methods however, a lawsuit or threats to initiate a lawsuit may constitute extortion. Chevron, 974 F. 2d at 577. In Chevron, Chevron sued a group of American and Ecuadorian lawyers - including Donziger - who had brought an action against Chevron in Ecuador on behalf of thousands of Ecuadorian indigenous peoples. Id. at 383. years of pressuring Chevron to settle [the Ecuador lawsuit] by a variety of both legitimate and illegitimate means, Donziger and his clients obtained a multibillion dollar judgment ... in the Ecuadorian courts .... Id. at 383-84. Chevron then sued Donziger in this district, contending that the Ecuador judgment was procured by fraud. Id. at 384.
The court found that Donziger's actions were for purposes of Hobbs Act extortion:
It was Donziger's purpose to magnify the pressure on Chevron by increasing both the perceived magnitude of its potential exposure and the perceived likelihood that the exposure in the end would culminate in huge liability. He repeatedly did so by manifestly wrongful means, which included corruption of the litigation and a pressure campaign premised on misrepresentations. Within the litigation, he coerced [the judge presiding over the Ecuador lawsuit] to allow the [plaintiffs in the Ecuador lawsuit] to drop their remaining judicial inspections and to appoint their hand-picked global expert, coordinated the ghostwriting of the [global expert report] to threaten Chevron for the first time with more than $16 billion of exposure; co-opted [the global expert] to put his name to it; supervised the ghostwriting for [the global expert's] signature on the response to the [parties'] comments on the [global expert's report], which raised the ante to more $22 billion; and bribed [the judge] to allow the [plaintiffs'] team to ghostwrite the multibillion Judgment. His pressure campaign relied upon his repeated dissemination of estimates of Chevron's damages exposure ... that he knew to be false. Each of these tactics increased the perceived threat of harm to Chevron, either by increasing the dollar exposure, by increasing the probability of a judgment that could be enforced outside Ecuador, or by both. They were inherently wrongful by any definition. Chevron had a preexisting right to be free from the threats invoked by the illegitimate means employed. . . . [The threats] destroyed the nexus between the original plausible claim and the fear of a catastrophic adverse result on that claim because the fear of such a result was a product not solely of the original plausible claim, but of the illegitimate means used to increase the exposure on that
likelihood would liable, likelihood
ultimately would "leverage money" illegitimate
"actual disclosure" would would "counterproductive." still
result "get up"
wrongful, claim may
Vie 06 4404 2014 3610890, July 2014), RICO
invoked."' Suisse, 2014 3610890, United 640 Suisse, "attempted
[Swiss Swiss Swiss Swiss
[C]aruso." *10 "Kraus claim
Swiss Life]" "did
U.S.C. claim, the that Chevron be found and the that any such finding prove enforceable. In other words, the illegitimate means that Danziger and his confederates used provided them with
to force the payment of that arose uniquely from the means. Moreover, the of those illegitimate means have been, and even today be, Put another way, one engaged in litigation either accepts the risk of an adverse reached by fair and honest methods or settles, and that is fine. But a litigant who magnifies the risks to its adversary by corrupting the litigation in order to the price creates leverage purely attributable to the corruption, which is inherently which bears no proper nexus to any plausible that have been asserted in the first place, and from which the victim has a right to be free. Chevron, 974 F. Supp. 2d at (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
Similarly, in La Suisse, Societe D' Assurances Sur La v. Kraus, No. CIV. CM GWG, WL at *9 (S.D.N.Y. 21, a case founded on alleged acts of extortion, the court noted that law recognizes that litigation may constitute extortion where the 'victim of the extortionate activity had a preexisting right to be free from the threats La WL at *9 (quoting States v. Tobin, 155 F.3d 636, (3d Cir. 1998)). In La defendants Kraus and Caruso to leverage their control and influence over Life] policyholders by instituting policyholder litigations against Life, ... and otherwise threatening Life in an attempt to extort Life into making payments directly to Kraus and Id. at (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). The court found that and Caruso did not have a legitimate of right to the proceeds of [the lawsuit they filed against because they not commence [the lawsuit] for the benefit of the plaintiffs and the nominal policyholders; rather, they initiated and [were] financing it as a tool to extort additional money from Id. (third alteration in original) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
18 § 875(d) also criminalizes extortion: Whoever, with intent to extort from any person, firm, association, or corporation, any money or thing of value, transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any
U.S.C. Section "extort" "intent extort."
United States 180 Second
$40 "by out-of-wedlock." 180
right" "inherently wrongful,"
60 communication containing any threat to injure the property or reputation of the addressee or of another or the reputation of a deceased person or any threat to accuse the addressee or any other person of a crime, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both. 18 § 875(d). 875(d) does not define or to
In v. Jackson, F.3d 55 (2d Cir. 1999), the Circuit discussed whether Section 875(d) - like the Hobbs Act - requires that threats be to constitute extortion. Jackson, F.3d at 65-72. In Jackson, defendant Autumn Jackson was convicted of, inter alia, extortion under Section 875(d) for attempting to obtain up to million from Bill Cosby threatening to cause tabloid newspapers to publish Jackson's claim to be Cosby's daughter Jackson, F.3d at 59. The trial court did not instruct the jury that the Government was required to prove that Jackson's alleged threats were instead, the court instructed the jury that law does not permit someone to obtain money or a thing of value by threatening to injure another person's regardless of whether the person communicating the threat believed that he or she was actually owed money by the victim. Id. at 65-66.
The Circuit concluded that the trial court's instruction was erroneous: We conclude that not all threats to reputation are within the scope of§ 875(d), that the objective of the party employing fear of economic loss or damage to reputation will have a bearing on the lawfulness of its use, and that it is material whether the defendant had a claim of right to the money demanded. Id. at see also id. at 71-72. The court found, however, that type of threat to reputation that has no nexus to a claim of is id.:
Where there is no plausible claim of right and the only leverage to force the payment of money resides in the threat, where actual disclosure would be counterproductive, and where compliance with the threatener's demands provides no assurance against additional demands based on renewed threats of disclosure, we regard a threat to reputation as inherently wrongful. We conclude that where a threat of harm to a person's reputation seeks money or property to which the threatener does not have, and cannot reasonably believe she has, a claim of right,
Penal "larceny extortion":
charge." Penal People Zon!!, (2010)
"affirmative defense," "held
- - or where the threat has no nexus to a plausible claim of right, the threat is inherently wrongful and its transmission in interstate commerce is prohibited by § 875(d). Id. at 71.
In New York Law§ 155.05(2)(e), New York criminalizes by
2. Larceny includes a wrongful taking, obtaining or withholding of another's property, with the intent prescribed in subdivision one of this section, committed in any of the following ways:
(e) By extortion. A person obtains property by extortion when he compels or induces another person to deliver such property to himself or to a third person by means of instilling in him a fear that, if the property is not so delivered, the actor or another will:
(iv) Accuse some person of a crime or cause criminal charges to be instituted against him; or (v) Expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject some person to hatred, contempt or ridicule .... N.Y. Law§ 155.05(2)(e).
New York law also provides that, Jn any prosecution for larceny by extortion committed by instilling in the victim a fear that he or another person would be charged with a crime, it is a ... defense that the defendant reasonably believed the threatened charge to be true and that his sole purpose was to compel or induce the victim to take reasonable action to make good the wrong which was the subject of such threatened N.Y. Law§ 155.15(2); see also v. 14 N.Y.3d 488, 492-93 (noting that the statute defines this defense as an but that the New York Court of Appeals has that a good faith claim of right is properly a defense not an affirmative defense and thus, the people
Under York public allegations
"conduct wrong." Power 910, 2000). public allegations "larger
wrong," "larceny extortion" lie.
Supp. 2007), York State Police alleging improperly Supp. 260. Plaintiff
State Police girlfriend Plaintiff "threaten[
actually calling "part" "larger wrong,"
York State Supreme York State Supreme
Plaintiff have the burden of disproving such defense beyond a reasonable quotation marks and citations omitted)).
New law, a threat to make embarrassing does not constitute extortion where that [is] part of a larger endeavor to obtain recompense for a perceived Niagara Mohawk Corp. v. Testone, 272 A.D.2d 911 (4th Dept.
However, where a threat to make embarrassing is not part of a endeavor to obtain recompense for a perceived liability under the by statute may
In Dawkins v. Williams, 511 F. 2d 248 (N.D.N.Y. plaintiff brought a false arrest claim against a New investigator, that he had been
arrested for larceny by extortion. Dawkins, 511 F. 2d at was arrested after he reported to the that his had been raped by his attorney. Id. at 251. not only ed] to continue to pursue ... [the] rape complaint, and to file a complaint with an attorney grievance but also threatened to contact various news outlets and report [the attorney's] alleged misconduct to them if [the attorney] did not pay Id. at 259 (footnote omitted).
The court found that plaintiff's conduct gave rise to probable cause to arrest him for violating New larceny by extortion statute, id.:
[H]ere, conduct in threatening to contact news outlets (as well as his apparent conduct of twice such news outlets) was not of his
endeavor to obtain recompense for a perceived since it was not a step that was necessary to pursue some sort remedy (for example, filing a
against Defendant with an attorney grievance committee of the Appellate Division of the New Court, or by filing a civil action against Defendant in New Court). Rather, the record evidence indicates that this conduct was a significant tool that used as a last resort, after his other threats had apparently failed, in order to try to extract an increased and exorbitant sum of money from Defendant.
260 "probable Plaintiff
Plaintiff press." 259-60 180 70-71)
Plaintiff's April 2014 2014
criminal federal 2014 - Plaintiffs
- Plaintiff's "forced litigation." Similarly, 2014 "one
family." Plaintiff "go claims," Supp. 260;
Plaintiffs Plaintiff file - "a legal remedy." See 260 allegations
"embarrassing litigation" "part
Plaintiff's "embarrassing litigation" "nexus right." 180 Id. at (emphasis in original). The court found that cause existed to believe that
was not acting in good faith when he threatened to go to the press with his claims, given the lack of any 'nexus' between the threatened disclosures to the press and any inherent material benefit to from going to the Id. at (citing Jackson, F.3d at (emphasis in
ii. Analysis Here, counsel's 29, letter and May 7, email and draft complaint do not constitute extortion as defined under or New York law. The April 29, letter merely states that if Wey's lawyer does not contact counsel immediately counsel will be to commence what is likely to be embarrassing
(DX X) the May 7, email informs Wey that he has more chance to avoid what surely will be expensive and embarrassing litigation for [him], [his] company and [his] (DX YI) The letter and email do not threaten that or her counsel will to the press with [her] see Dawkins, 511 F. 2d at instead, these communications informed Wey that, ifhe did not contact lawyers, intended to a lawsuit against him step that was necessary to pursue ... [a]
id. at (emphasis omitted). The fact that the in the lawsuit might embarrass or affect the reputation of Wey, his friends, or his does not convert effort to enforce her legal rights into an extortion attempt. Unlike in Dawkins, the references to
in the letter and email were of a larger endeavor to obtain recompense for a perceived not simply threats to ruin Wey's reputation. Niagara, 272 A.D.2d at 911. Accordingly, counsel's references to potentially
clearly have a to a plausible claim of Jackson, F.3d at 71.
2014 3610890, *9-10. Plaintiff's
brought." P.C., 80 2000).
attention," The references to here are also not comparable to the conduct that the Chevron and LaSuisse courts found to be under the Hobbs Act. In Chevron, Donziger ... the litigation [process] and [conducted] a pressure campaign premised on misrepresentations," including bribing an Ecuadorian judge to allow Donziger's team to ghostwrite the multibillion-dollar judgment against Chevron. Chevron, 974 F. Supp. 2d at Threatening to file a lawsuit that might be is not analogous to wholesale corruption of a judicial proceeding through bribery and other misconduct. In LaSuisse, Kraus and Caruso instituted lawsuits against Swiss Life on behalf of insurance policyholders, but used those lawsuits to attempt to collect money for themselves - money to which they clearly had no right. LaSuisse, WL at Here, counsel threatened to file a lawsuit on behalf of which alleged that Defendants had violated legal rights. The fact that the allegations in the Complaint might be embarrassing to Wey does not convert
lawsuit into extortion.
In the context of a motion for sanctions under Fed. R. Civ. 11, the Second Circuit has noted that ]n attorney is entitled to warn the opposing party of his intention to assert colorable claims, as well as to speculate about the likely effect of those claims being
Revson v. Cinque & Cinque, 221 F.3d 71, (2d Cir. And in Sussman v. Bank oflsrael, 56 F.3d (2d Cir. 1995), the court Rule 11 sanctions based on the attorney's having written a prelitigation letter warning of adverse publicity if the claims were to come to public id.:
Nor do we think it was appropriate for the district court to find that [the attorney's] prelitigation letters were evidence that the ... complaint was filed for an improper purpose. It is hardly unusual for a would-be plaintiff to seek to resolve disputes without resorting to legal action; prelitigation letters airing grievances and threatening litigation if they are not resolved are commonplace, sometimes with
extortion" 2005 1006030,
"started friends" 240) Plaintiff's Plaintiff (PX 105) Plaintiff '"reasonably
true,"' Plaintiff '"to
charge."' Supp. N.Y. Penal
Plaintiff extortion.]" salutary results, and do not suffice to show an improper purpose if nonfrivolous litigation is eventually commenced. Id. (quoting 56 F.3d at 459). Accordingly, with respect to the of embarrassing litigation in counsel's letter and email, the general rule that of litigation, even economically ruinous litigation, even unmeritorious litigation, do not constitute
applies. DirecTV, WL at *5.
counsel's statement that his law firm was whether [Wey' s] actions to date rise to the level of criminal misconduct that would require law enforcement (DX X), also does not constitute extortion. Although New York law provides that larceny by extortion may be committed by instilling in the victim a fear that he may be charged with a crime, see N.Y. Law§ 155.05(2)(e), the evidence at trial establishes that
had a reasonable, good faith belief that Wey's actions rose to the level of criminal misconduct. After her termination from NYGG, Wey to harass and stalk [her] and [her] family and [her] (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. at 1215), and during a phone call shortly after
termination, Wey told that he had video surveillance of her and Chauvet. Given Wey's harassment and stalking, believed the threatened charge to be and in these circumstances the law permits compel or induce [Wey] to take reasonable action to make good the wrong which was the subject of the threatened
Dawkins, 511 F. 2d at 257 (quoting Law§ 155.15(2)). Accordingly, it was reasonable for the jury to find that had satisfied her burden of proving the falsity of Defendants' statements accusing her of extortion.
Defendants argue, however, that reasonable jury could conclude that it was negligent for Defendants to have [published statements accusing of criminal (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 38) Acknowledging that Wey testified that he interpreted the May 7,
money" Plaintiff's 2014 2014
Plaintiff (See YI; Y3)
(See Plaintiff "law intervention," Plaintiff "law intervention" "retaliatory action" Plaintiff, (14.)
Plaintiff Plaintiff's NYGG- 2014 United States. (See
Plaintiff United States "[t]here
Plaintiff United States
email and draft complaint as threatening that Bouveng and her counsel would a false charge of rape with ... law enforcement if [Wey] did not pay them (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 234) at 724), neither counsel's April 29, letter, nor the May 7, email and draft complaint, state or suggest that is contemplating filing a rape charge with law enforcement. DX X; Accordingly, the jury was entitled to reject Wey's argument that these communications constitute a threat to seek a rape charge against Wey.
As noted earlier, the April 29 letter makes no reference whatsoever to rape or forced sexual conduct. DX X) While this letter does suggest that may seek enforcement it is clear from context that is threatening to seek enforcement if Wey's - the harassment and stalking of
her family, and friends - continues. This Court concludes that a reasonably jury could find that Defendants were at least negligent in publishing statements that accused of criminal extortion.
b. Statements Accusing Plaintiff of Visa Fraud The Blot articles include many statements accusing of committing visa fraud. J-1 visa expired thirty days after her termination from i.e., on May 22, - by which time she was required to leave the DX Rat 2; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 1042-43) As to falsity, Defendants concede that a reasonable jury could have found that left the before her visa expired, but they argue that is .. . no evidence that Defendant knew [that had left the in May 2014], or could have learned [that fact] upon some type ofreasonable (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at
2014, "revoke today"
2014 Plaintiff 2014
Plaintiff's "Hanna yesterday." (PX 103
Plaintiff 縮 PX ("Hanna JP
BO) Plaintiff 2014
Under U.S.C. "knowingly
promises[.]" U.S.C. '"[T]he "scheme defraud" Defendants ignore evidence demonstrating that Wey ( 1) knew the limitations of Bouveng's J-1 visa- having told her on April 22, that he would [her] visa (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 979-80); and (2) was aware as of May 22, - when Bouveng's visa expired - that had returned to Sweden. Indeed, in a May 22, Facebook message to Camilla Blomqvist, best friend in Sweden, Wey stated: is back to Vetlanda Sweden. Left at 4; see also Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 234) at 655) Wey also admitted at trial that he knew that Bouveng wasn't kicked out of that she went home after losing her visa, and that she was not arrested at the airport upon her re-entry into the States before trial. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 234) at 693-94) Based on this evidence, a reasonable jury could find that Defendants were at least negligent in publishing statements accusing of visa fraud.
c. Statements Accusing Plaintiff of Bank Fraud The Blot articles also accuse of committing bank fraud. See, 87 Bouveng defrauded Morgan Chase bank in New York by writing bad checks without any money in her bank At trial, a document containing records from Chase Bank account was received into evidence. (DX This document shows that incurred a $34 overdraft fee in April because she attempted to cash a $69.68 check without having sufficient funds in her account. (See id. at 26)
18 § 1344, it is a crime for anyone to execute, or attempt to execute, a scheme or artifice (1) to defraud a financial institution; or (2) to obtain any of the moneys, funds, credits, assets, securities, or other property owned by, or under the custody or control of, a financial institution, by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or 18 § 1344. to clause ...
loss.'" United 140 United
United 970 1085, 1089
compensation."'" 906 requires that the defendant engage in ... a pattern or course of conduct designed to deceive a federally chartered or insured financial institution into releasing property, with the intent to victimize the institution by exposing it to actual or potential States v. Rodriguez,
F.3d 163, 167 (2d Cir. 1998) (alterations in original) (emphasis omitted) (quoting States v. Stavroulakis, 952 F.2d 636, 694 (2d Cir. 1992)); see also States v. Ragosta, F.2d (2d Cir. 1992).
At trial, Plaintiff testified that she had not taken any steps to defraud Chase Bank. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at Moreover, a reasonable jury could conclude that Plaintiffs one-time overdraft- which involved a $69.68 check - did not constitute an effort to defraud Chase Bank, and could not reasonably be regarded as an effort to commit bank fraud - particularly by a sophisticated international businessman such as Wey. (See Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 487-88)
In sum, the jury was entitled to conclude that Defendants were at least negligent in publishing statements accusing Plaintiff of having committed bank fraud.
* * * * For the reasons stated above, Defendants are not entitled to judgment as a matter oflaw on Plaintiffs defamation claim with respect to statements referencing extortion, visa fraud, or bank fraud. To the extent that Defendants seek a new trial as to liability on defamation claim, their motion is denied. II. REMITTITUR THE
AND PUNITIVE DAMAGE AW A. Standard of Review
applicable New York state law, 'a monetary judgment is excessive it deviates materially from what would be reasonable Allam v. Meyers, F.
Supp. (S.D.N.Y. 2012) 370 2004) C.P.L.R. "Because trial
diversity." Supp. 420, (S.D.N.Y. 2008) 304 U.S. "In
injuries." 906 Supp. U.S. 370 Supp. "While review."
Supp. 430 (S.D.N.Y. 2010); Supp.
" Supp. 403, (S.D.N.Y.
trial."' 09 (S.D.N.Y. 2011) iStar 508 Supp. (S.D.N.Y. 2007), 2010)). "Remittitur
award."' Und Union 930 1021, 1027
2d 274, 286 (citations omitted) (quoting Rangolan v. Cnty. of Nassau, F.3d 239, 244 (2d Cir. (quoting N.Y. § 550l(c))). New York courts 550l(c), under Gasperini[ v. Ctr. for Humanities, Inc., 518 415, 425 (1996)], so do federal district courts sitting in Okraynets v. Metro. Transp. Auth., 555 F.
2d 435 (citing Erie R.R. Co. v. Tompkins, 64 (1938)). determining whether an award 'deviates materially from what would be reasonable compensation,' N.Y. § 550l(c), [district courts] compare the jury's award to awards allowed in analogous cases involving similar types of Allam, F. 2d at 286- 87 (citing Gasperini, 518 at 425; Rangolan, F.3d at 244; Okraynets, 555 F. 2d at 435). instructive, such earlier awards are not binding for [district courts'] Id. at 287 (citing Lewis v. City ofNew York, 689 F. 2d 417, Okraynets, 555 F. 2d at 436).
a trial court finds a damage verdict to be excessive, it may order a new trial on all issues or only on the question of damages. Alternatively, the court may grant remittitur .... Iannone v. Frederic R. Harris, Inc., 941 F. 411 1996) (citations omitted).
is the process by which a court compels a plaintiff to choose between a reduction of an excessive verdict and a new Chisholm v. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, No. Civ. 821l(VM),2011 WL 5448251, at *4 Nov. 4, (quoting Thomas v. Financial, Inc., F. 2d 252, 257 affd, 629 F.3d 276 (2d Cir. is appropriate to reduce verdicts only in cases 'in which a properly instructed jury hearing properly admitted evidence nevertheless makes an excessive
Webungs Commerz Austalt v. Collectors' Guilt, Ltd., F.2d
Shu-Tao 50 "A damages."
Servs., 2008 Sept. 2008) "'[A]
ticket."' 2008 "Importantly,
"'shock conscience,"' '"consider[ cases."' DiSorbo 2003) 808, "within range," "balance
70 (2d Cir. 1991) (quoting Lin v. McDonnell Douglas Corp., 742 F.2d 45, (2d Cir. 1984)). remittitur, in effect, is a statement by the court that it is shocked by the jury's award of Ismail v. Cohen, 899 F.2d 183, 186 (2d Cir. 1990).
it is properly within the province of the jury to calculate damages, there is upper limit, and whether that has been surpassed is not a question of fact with respect to which reasonable [persons] may differ, but a question of Dotson v. City of No. 5:04-CV-1388(NAM)(GJD), 2011 WL 817499, at* 13 (N.D.N.Y. Mar. 2, 2011) (quoting Khan v. Hip Centralized Lab. Inc., No. CV-03-2411 (DGT), WL 4283348, at *6 (E.D.N.Y. 17, (citations omitted)). jury has broad discretion in measuring damages, but it may not abandon analysis for sympathy for a suffering plaintiff and treat an injury as though it were a winning lottery Id. (quoting Khan, WL 4283348, at *6).
in calculating the remittitur, the court must use the least intrusive - and most faithful to the jury's verdict - method ofreduc[ing] the verdict only to the maximum that would be upheld by the trial court as not MacMillan, 873 F. 2d at 559-60 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). To determine whether an award is so high as to the judicial the Court must ] ... the amounts awarded in other, comparable v. Hoy, 343 F.3d 172, 183 (2d Cir. (quoting Mathie v. Fries, 121 F.3d 813 (2d Cir. 1997)). A court should determine whether the award is [a] reasonable not just the number of high and low awards and reject the verdict in the instant case ifthe number oflower awards is Ismail, 899 F.2d at 187.
B. Compensatory Damage Awards
Arguing that suffered no more than emotional distress, Defendants assert that the jury's award of in emotional distress damages on Plaintiff's
should $30,000. million
NYSHRL Sexual "A
losses."' 2012 Office Mental
2011); 600-01 2010)). "The
"garden-variety," "significant" "egregious." "garden variety"
lack medical "Garden variety"
$30,000 $125,000 "Significant"
medical quid pro quo sexual harassment claims is excessive and be remitted to no more than
(Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 56-64) Defendants also argue that the jury's $1.5 compensatory damage award on Plaintiff's defamation claim is excessive. They contend that the emotional distress component of this award be remitted to no more than and that the reputational injury component of this award be remitted to no more than (Id. at 64-74)
1. and NYCHRL Quid Pro Quo Harassment Claims
plaintiff who prevails on a claim of sexual harassment under ... the NYSHRL or the NYCHRL[J may recover compensatory damages for 'emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other nonpecuniary Caravantes, WL 3631276, at *22 (quoting Bergerson v. N.Y. of Health, Cent. New York Psychiatric Ctr., 652 F.3d 277, 286 (2d Cir. citing Mendez v. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., 746 F. Supp. 2d 575, (S.D.N.Y. precise amount of compensatory damages in any given case 'depends on a unique set of facts and circumstances.'" Id. (quoting v. Cnty. of Nassau, 615 F. Supp. 2d 35, 45 (E.D.N.Y. (citation omitted)).
In this Circuit, [ e ]motional distress awards ... can generally be grouped into three categories of claims: and In emotional distress claims, the evidence of mental suffering is generally to the testimony of the plaintiff, who describes his or her injury in vague or conclusory terms, without relating either the severity or consequences of the injury. Such claims typically extraordinary circumstances and are not supported by any corroboration. emotional distress claims generally merit to awards.
emotional distress claims differ from the garden-variety claims in that they are based on more substantial harm or more offensive conduct, are sometimes supported by testimony and evidence, evidence of treatment
"egregious" "outrageous shocking"
testimony." Supp. 601 Osorio Source 05 10029, 2007 (S.D.N. 2007)). "However,
[She] useless" "ashamed." "more usual" 2014,
"in shock." 980)
by a healthcare professional and/or medication, and testimony from other, corroborating witnesses. Finally, emotional distress claims generally involve either
or discriminatory conduct or a significant impact on the physical health of the plaintiff. In or cases, where there is typically evidence of debilitating and permanent alterations in lifestyle, larger damage awards may be warranted. Id. (quoting 615 F. 2d at 46-47 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted)).
court is not required to remit a large non-economic damage award, even where evidence of emotional damage consists solely of plaintiffs Mendez, 746 F.
2d at (citing v. Enterprises, Inc., No. Civ. WL 683985 Y. Mar. 2, when a court is convinced that the jury's award is entirely out of proportion to the plaintiff's injury, and motivated by sympathy rather than by evidence of harm, remittitur is the appropriate Id.
Here, Plaintiff testified that - when she submitted to Wey's sexual advances for the first time - she so used and weak and ... was so ashamed that [she] let [it] (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 934) After each subsequent sexual encounter, Bouveng felt more and more weak. That [she] didn't mean anything. That everything that [she] felt and thought, that it didn't matter. felt and (Id. at 935) Chemme Koluman testified that Plaintiff seemed stressed than in February at about the time that Plaintiff decided to stop having sex with Wey. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. at Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 935-36)
There is also evidence that Plaintiff suffered emotional distress as a result of her termination from NYGG, which - a reasonable jury could have found - was caused by her rejection of Wey's sexual advances. Plaintiff testified that Wey's conduct at that time left her
(Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at Wey, Koluman, and Weiss testified that Plaintiff
"angry," "upset," "stressed"
"naked, drunk" "homeless man," "par[tying] crazy," "double life" ⡳敥Ȿ⸠ PX "embarrassing" "scary." "[t]rying family," "trying
[her]." "stressed out" of"the father." Mat
"garden variety" "vague
purported seemed, and as a result of her termination. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 228) at 272-73; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. at 367; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 234) at 623-24) Wey's anger, screaming, use of profanity, and violent behavior on the day of Plaintiffs termination (see Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 979-80, 982), and the surrounding circumstances, tend to support the evidence indicating that Plaintiff suffered emotional distress as a result of her termination.
Plaintiff also testified that the flurry of emails Wey sent to her family and friends - which accused her of consorting with a dirty, totally black
like and leading a 24, 38, 41) - were
and (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 985) Plaintiff felt that Wey was to humiliate [her] in front of [her] and to make [her] look bad in front of everyone [she] know[ s] in order to isolate (Id. at 989) Plaintiff also felt ...
because impact and effect [Wey's emails] had on [her] 986) Plaintiff testified that Wey's emails [her] a lot and ... got [her] really upset, stressed, scared that [Wey] would keep on contacting [her 986)
Acknowledging that Wey' s behavior - in the context of an employment relationship was outrageous, the Court concludes that the emotional distress evidence establishes no more than emotional distress. Plaintiff described her emotional distress in largely or conclusory terms, without relating either the severity or
Defendants argue that the effect of Wey' s emails cannot considered distress caused by the termination" (Def. Reply Br. (Dkt. No. 284) at 14), but Plaintiffs termination from NYGG was the but-for cause of these emails. Indeed, Wey testified that he sent the emails in order to inform Plaintiffs family about the reasons behind her termination, (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 596-97), and the emails do in fact discuss in detail Plaintiffs behavior leading up to her termination. Accordingly, for purposes of considering the emotional distress Plaintiff suffered as a result of her termination, Wey's emails discussing the reasons for her termination cannot be divorced from the termination itself.
loss, apply Plaintiff's
"not corroboration." 0
(Trial Plaintiff's 2015,
Second '"[g]arden $30,000 $125,000 awards."' Olsen, Supp. 670 ("This $125,000
$5,000 $30,000."') Patterson 440 104, 120 2006) $100,000
pains"); consequences of the in a meaningful way. Whatever emotional distress she suffered as a result of her termination appears to have been brief and transitory. There was no evidence of continued shock, nightmares, sleeplessness, weight or humiliation, or of an inability to
for a new position or to enjoy life in general. claims of emotional distress were likewise supported by any medical lsen, 615 F. Supp. 2d at 46. To the contrary, Defendants' expert - the psychiatrist Dr. Ziv - testified that did not describe any psychiatric symptoms - even minor ones - as a result of Defendants' conduct, and Ziv concluded that did not have suffer from any continued depression, anxiety, phobias, or emotional distress as a result of Defendants' conduct: Tr. (Dkt. No. 228) at 212, 226)
failure to seek mental health treatment- other than on one occasion in March several months before trial at 224) - is consistent with Ziv's finding that suffered no long-term emotional distress as a result of Defendant's conduct.
In the Circuit, variety' emotional distress claims 'generally merit to 615 F. 2d at 46; see also Lore, F.3d at 177 Court has ... affirmed awards of each to plaintiffs for emotional distress resulting from age discrimination where the evidence of emotional distress consisted only of 'testimony establishing shock, nightmares, sleeplessness, humiliation, and other subjective distress.' ... [W]e [have previously] rejected [a] defendant's contention that those damage awards, for 'garden variety emotional distress claims,' 'should have been reduced to between
and (citations omitted); v. Balsamico, F.3d (2d Cir. (upholding the jury's compensatory damages award where ''the plaintiff offered testimony of his humiliation, embarrassment, and loss of self-confidence, as well as testimony relating to his sleeplessness, headaches, [and] stomach Meacham v. Knolls Atomic
Power 2004) $125,000 "subjective distress"), KAPL, U.S. (2005);
Upward 09 5378(RJS), 2011 Sept. 2011) ("A
$30,000 $125,000."); 2011 ("Where
$30,000 $125,000 awards.").
$500,000 Plaintiffs Partners,
09 782l(RPP), 2012 2012), -
"dirty" "bad" "wouldn't anyone." "I inside."
Plaintiffs Laboratory, 381 F.3d 56 (2d Cir. (upholding award of for
vacated on other grounds sub nom. Inc. v. Meacham, 544 957 DeCurtis v. Bound Int'l, Inc., No. Civ. WL 4549412, at *4 (S.D.N. Y. 27, review of the relevant case law in this jurisdiction reveals that plaintiffs with garden-variety claims generally receive between and Dotson, WL 817 499, at * 15 emotional distress encompasses humiliation, shame, shock, moodiness and being upset but is devoid of any medical treatment or physical manifestation, it is considered to be 'garden variety.' 'Garden variety' emotional distress claims generally merit to
Here, an analysis of cases in this Circuit involving claims of serious sexual harassment in the workplace indicates that the jury's compensatory award on
sexual harassment claims is excessive. In Caravantes v. 53rd Street LLC, No. Civ. WL 3631276, (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 23, the plaintiff a heterosexual man who worked as a coffee maker at a restaurant owned by the defendants - testified that defendant Velandia - a manager at the restaurant who is homosexual - forced plaintiff to engage in oral and anal sex in the restaurant's bathroom and elsewhere almost daily for more than two years. Caravantes, WL 3631276, at* 1, *5-6. testified that, during the period that he and Velandia were having sex, he felt and and want to speak to Id. at *23. He added: had no strength .... I was dead on the
Id. During this period, plaintiff suffered from nightmares, had trouble sleeping, did not associate with his friends, and did not have sexual relations with his wife. Id. years after the harassment, plaintiff was hospitalized for a week due to suicidal thoughts. Id.
it." Olsen, Supp. Plaintiff's "compelling testimony"
Supp. 370 (S.D.N.Y. 2001), Police 60
2003) Police 2004), E.S. Sutton, 02 2005 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 2005), 2006).
Police Supp. 320. She "day one" "experienced
'honey."' 320. Plaintiff unwelcome,
manner" "touch[ing] tongue" testimony was corroborated by his wife and a psychologist, who testified that plaintiff suffered from major depressive disorder. Id. at *23-24.
After conducting a bench trial and finding liability, the court considered damages. Id. at * 1. The court that the case fell the 'egregious' category of emotional distress claims, given the extensive nature of Velandia's discriminatory conduct, and the significant impact on [plaintiff's] mental health that resulted from Id. at *24 (citing 615 F. 2d at 47). The court also noted that was supported by medical evidence. Id. The court concluded, however, that an award of would adequately compensate plaintiff for his injuries, noting that although he entitled to substantial damages in this case ... the evidence does indicate that [plaintiff's] condition is treatable, and that he is currently working in a Id. (citations omitted). In reaching this conclusion, the court relied on Katt v. City of New York, 151 F. 2d 313,
aff'd in part sub nom. Krohn v. New York City Dep't, F. App'x 357 (2d Cir. and aff'd sub nom. Krohn v. New York City Dep't, 372 F.3d 83 (2d Cir.
and Watson v. Inc., No. Civ. 2739 (KMW), WL 2170659 6, aff'd, 225 F. App'x 3 (2d Cir.
In Katt, plaintiff was employed by the New York City Department. Katt, 151 F. 2d at testified that from at her precinct, she a 'rowdy atmosphere' with 'a lot of sexual innuendos, sexual comments, questions, [and] intrusive questions' regarding her personal life and personal sexual habits. Male employees at the precinct routinely touched her on the waist and referred to her as 'sweetheart' or Id. at
also testified that her supervisor ''touched [her] in an degrading and sexually suggestive - including the back of her neck with his - and
through.'" J21-22. Plaintiff "these
infections," "continually sleeping." She "can't to."
"nonfunctional, functioning" "probably permanent." $400,000 "there Seventh Precinct's
damage." E.S. Sutton, 02 2005 2170659 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 2005), $500,000
NYSHRL, NYCHRL. 2005
"contention $5,000 $30,000 that he once her with a water pistol on a summer day when she was dressed in a white t-shirt, and announced to the precinct that he hoped to wet plaintiff's nipples to 'have them show
Id. at testified that regular incidents of degrading and sexually provocative conduct, as well as unwelcome sexual advances, caused her to suffer severe headaches, stomach ailments, diarrhea, increased upper respiratory allergies and and that she felt run down ... [and] had trouble Id. at 323. also testified that she really have an intimate sexual relationship like [she] used Id. A psychologist corroborated plaintiffs claims of significant and continuing emotional distress, testifying that plaintiff was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and that her barely
state is Id. at 324. The court upheld the jury's award of in compensatory damages, finding that was ample testimony in this case that the
pervasive and sexually hostile work environment has caused the plaintiff substantial and permanent psychological Id. at 3 71.
In Watson v. Inc., No. Civ. 2739 (KMW), WL 6, ajury awarded plaintiff in compensatory damages for emotional distress suffered as a result of defendants' unlawful retaliation under Title VII, the
and the Watson, WL 2170659, at* 14. The court concluded that this award was excessive, because plaintiff had
not pointed ... to any comparable cases - that is, cases with no permanent psychological damage or disability resulting from the harassment - with awards so high as the one the jury here gave her. The decisions she has cited approving multi-hundred-thousand dollar awards for emotional damages all involve post-traumatic stress disorder, and plaintiffs who were forced to be medicated and out of work for extended periods of time. Id. at *15 (citing cases). The court also found, however, that the defendants' that 'garden variety' emotional damage awards are in the range of to is ... not
York law." "[b
Police $250,000 U.S.C. "he
discrimination." $250,000 award "is
Circuit," and "which
Plaintiff persuasive, because those numbers appear to be at the low end of the range of damages generally awarded under New Id. The court concluded that, ]ecause the jury, and th[ e] Court, found that [plaintiff] suffered considerable distress, the Court is inclined to remit the award to a value within the appropriate range [for garden emotional distress] that nevertheless reflects the jury's view that [plaintiff's] distress was Id. at * 16.
In sexual harassment cases in this Circuit where significant awards for emotional distress have been upheld - even absent proof of long-term psychological damage - the harassment had generally continued for years. In Quinn v. Nassau Cnty. Dep't, 53 F. Supp. 2d 347 (E.D.N. 1999), for example, the jury awarded the plaintiff - a homosexual male employed at the Nassau County Department - for emotional distress on a sexual harassment claim under 42 §§ 1983 and 1985, where the plaintiff testified that - for almost ten years - was ridiculed, humiliated, abused and singled-out because of his sexual orientation.'' Quinn, 53 F. Supp. 2d at 351. The defendants argued that the award was excessive because ( 1) ''the plaintiff did not begin seeking mental health counseling with a social worker until he had a consultation with an attorney about his and (2) was no testimony showing that [plaintiff] will have permanent emotional scars because of the
Id. at 363. The court disagreed, finding that the in line with similar damages award in this noting that plaintiff's testimony, his social worker corroborated, as to the emotional distress he suffered from years of chronic, pervasive, humiliating and severe sexual orientation harassment adequately supports the award of compensatory damages in this Id.
Here, unlike the plaintiffs in Caravantes, Katt, and Quinn, offered no medical evidence whatsoever corroborating her testimony- which itself was quite limited-
disorder" 2005 $500,000
Purmasir 160 380 2000),
Plaintiff Purmasir's 160 On Purmasir
"very "very sexy." On "came shoulders,"
Purmasir "out occasions." On Purmasir "grabbed back" Plaintiff Purmasir "threatened concerning the emotional distress she suffered as a result of Wey's sexual harassment. Indeed, the only medical evidence the jury heard indicated that Wey's sexual harassment had caused
no lasting damage. Because cases multi-hundred-thousand dollar awards for emotional damages all involve post-traumatic stress or medical evidence of some other psychological harm, see Watson, WL 2170659, at* 15, the jury's award cannot stand. Moreover, sexual harassment cases that have sustained awards greater than have generally involved pervasive harassment that took place over a number of years.
Defend_ants' argument that only a award is appropriate is not persuasive, however. Defendants for the most part- on race and sex discrimination and retaliation cases, and not cases in which an employer pressured his subordinate to have sex, and then had sex with the employee, over the course of several months. (See Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 57-63)
two of the cases cited by Defendants involve sexual harassment, and those cases are distinguishable. In Walia v. Vivek & Associates, Inc., F. Supp. 2d (E.D.N.Y. plaintiff - a young woman - sued her former employer for, inter alia, defamation and sexual harassment under Title VII, the NYSHRL, and the NYCHRL.
had been hired to work as a part-time secretary at defendant Vivek company. Walia, F. Supp. 2d at 383. her first day of work, squeezed her cheeks and told her that she was pretty and Id. the second day, he from behind her while she was typing and held onto her and later asked her to sit on his lap. Id. Later on, tried to order a cocktail dress for plaintiff, and he asked her for dinner on several Id. the third day, plaintiff was in the elevator with when he [her] from the and squeezed her breasts. Id. at 384. left the job that day. Id. at 384. The next day, to publish
lawsuit," "told [her]."' Plaintiff Purmasir "other people" "whore" "a slut," Purmasir
herself," "she Purmasir's
community." "the testimony."
community," "the conduct." "suffered
depression," "the egregious."
80 things about [plaintiff] that would bring shame to her if she filed a and her that he would write that she was a 'whore ... and nobody will marry Id. later learned that had been telling that she was a and and called plaintiff at her home and told her that she was a slut and a whore. Id.
The defendants did not respond to the complaint, and a default was entered against them. Id. at 383. After an inquest, the court concluded that the plaintiff was entitled to
in compensatory damages for the physical and emotional distress she suffered as a result of defendants' sexual harassment. Id. at 392.
In determining an appropriate compensatory damage award, the court noted that e ]vidence of the mental anguish and emotional distress suffered by plaintiff came primarily from the testimony of plaintiff who testified that suffered humiliation and emotional distress as a result of actions, and her testimony establishes that she has been inhibited from continuing her schooling and from working certain jobs, and that she has been alienated from her family and from her Id. at 391-92. The court found that
expert report of plaintiff's psychologist ... corroborates this Id. The court concluded that, although the sexual harassment lasted only three days, effects of that harassment have been longstanding and disproportionate as a result of the reaction of plaintiff's family and because in plaintiff's culture, woman is blamed for the man's
Id. at 392. The court also noted that plaintiff physical consequences including stomach aches that required hospitalization, sleeping disorders, and and found that actual incidents of harassment ... are particularly Id. The court concluded that have typically awarded plaintiffs complaining of similar injuries in amounts ranging from to as compensatory damages for mental anguish
distress," $30,000 would
sexual - World 2014
(RID) 2014 1350350 2014)- also default
claims sexual Title
"you beautiful," also "he
her."' '"when himself."'
Plaintiff sexual "uncomfortable uneasy," "humiliated," "physically disgusted." Plaintiff "suffered physical ailments,"
distress." "[b]ased and emotional and found that be an appropriate award under the circumstances. Id. at 391-92.
The other case harassment case cited by Defendants Rodriguez v. Express Wide, LLC, No. 12 Civ. 4572 (RID) (RML), WL 1347369 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 16, 2014), report and recommendation adopted, No. 12 Civ. 4572 (RML), WL
(E.D.N.Y. Mar. 31, involves a judgment. In Rodriguez, the plaintiff asserted for, inter alia, harassment under VII and the NYCHRL against her former employer. Rodriguez, WL 1347369, at *I. testified that on her first day of work, defendant Mendoza made inappropriate remarks to plaintiff during training. Id. During a drive to an off-site warehouse, Mendoza continued to make inappropriate comments to plaintiff, such as are so and he stroked her hair and rubbed her shoulder. Id. at *2. He told plaintiff, among other things, that loved her eyes and that he was 'excited to take business trips with her, where he can lay naked in bed with Id. Mendoza also said that he first saw her, he ejaculated on Id. After plaintiff returned from the trip to the warehouse, she left work and did not return. Id.
testified that, as a result of Mendoza's advances, she felt and and repulsed and Id. at *7. also asserted that she had severe emotional distress and but she did not submit medical or health records in support of her claim for damages and ... provided no evidence of the duration of her emotional Id. The court found that, on plaintiffs submissions and testimony, the unquestionable severity and intensity of the sexually harassing behavior, the brief duration of her employment, and the applicable case
excessive." Supp. 559-60
"broad damages." 2011
Plaintiff's "vague conclusory"; Plaintiff
$150,000 "the excessive"
See Supp. 560
Plaintiff law, ... an award of is reasonable to compensate plaintiff for her emotional distress
Id. (citing cases)
Walia and Rodriguez provide no guidance here. As an initial matter, the compensatory damage awards in both cases were determined by the court upon a default, and not by a jury. As discussed above, calculating [a] remittitur, the court must use the least intrusive - and most faithful to the jury's verdict - method ofreduc[ing] the verdict only to the maximum that would be upheld by the trial court as not MacMillan, 873 F. 2d at (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). This Court must respect the jury's discretion in measuring Dotson, WL 817499, at *13. Accordingly, cases in which a court has estimated damages after a default are less persuasive here than cases that involve remittiturs of jury awards. Moreover, the harassment at issue in Walia and Rodriguez is not comparable to the harassment suffered, either in severity or duration. Although the defendants' conduct in Walia and Rodriguez was reprehensible, neither case involved a demand for sex that culminated in sexual intercourse. And while Wey's sexual harassment continued for a number of months, the harassment in Walia and Rodriguez lasted several days or less.
Because (1) much of testimony regarding her emotional distress is or (2) there is almost no evidence of any sort that has suffered any long-term emotional distress; (3) offered no medical corroboration for her emotional distress, and Defendant offered medical testimony demonstrating that has suffered no long-term consequences from Wey's sexual harassment, this Court concludes that an award of
constitutes maximum that [can] be upheld ... as not on her sexual harassment claims. MacMillan, 873 F. 2d at (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). This amount will compensate for the emotional distress, humiliation,
part.""' 520, 2007) Special
awards." 705 Supp. 220, 2010) ("Due
award." 206 "Jurors embarrassment, and stress she suffered for a number of months as a result ofWey's outrageous sexual harassment, but recognizes the absence of evidence suggesting any long-term effects or consequences.
Accordingly, Defendants' motion for a new trial concerning compensatory damages on quid pro quo sexual harassment claims will be granted unless agrees to a remittitur reducing the compensatory damage award from to
2. Defamation Claim The jury awarded Plaintiff $1.5 million in compensatory damages on her defamation claim. Because did not seek damages for economic harm, she may only recover on her defamation claim for (I) emotional distress, and (2) damage to her reputation.
unique nature of[ defamation] cases is well established. actions for other torts there is generally ... some standard by which the reasonableness of an award of damages may be tested, but it is seldom so in actions for libel and slander where the elements of wounded sensibilities and the loss of public esteem play a Yammine v. De Vita, 43 A.D.3d 521 (3d Dept. (quoting Frechette v. Mags., 285 A.D. 174, 178 (3d Dept. 1954) (quoting Lynch v. New York Times Co., 171 A.D. 399, (1st Dept. 1916))).
that reason, the amount of such damages is peculiarly within the jury's province[,] requiring prudence and restraint by a trial court in the exercise of its discretion over these Id. (internal citations and quotation marks omitted); see also Cantu v. Flanigan, F. 2d 227 (E.D.N.Y. to the uncertainties in calculating [non-economic] damage awards [in defamation cases], New courts have consistently held that deference to the jury's findings is required in considering whether to reduce a jury's (citing Calhoun v. Cooper,
A.D.2d 497, 497 (2d Dept. 1994))). are uniquely positioned to assess the evidence
damages." 705 "Therefore, 5501(c)
law." 206 "In
case." 26 705 "Additionally,
future." 705 206
"sex pimp." "apply
statements.]" "creepy scary"
challenged presented at trial and assign a monetary value to the plaintiff's non-economic Cantu,
F. Supp. 2d at 227. although this court cannot avoid its duty to conduct section
review of the jury's verdict, the discretion to reduce such an award should be 'exercised sparingly' under New York Id. (quoting Calhoun, A.D.2d at 497).
calculating non-economic damages in a defamation case, including humiliation, mental suffering and damage to plaintiff's reputation, a jury may properly consider a number of Id. Here, the jury was instructed to consider s standing in the community, the nature of the statement made about [P]laintiff, the extent to which the statement was circulated, the tendency of the statement to injure a person such as [P]laintiff, and all of the other facts and circumstances in the (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 244) at 1629; see also Cantu,
F. Supp. 2d at 227-28 (listing same factors)) the jury may consider all future harm to the plaintiff's reputation, as well as any humiliation or mental anguish that plaintiff would suffer in the Cantu, F. Supp. 2d at 228 (citing Calhoun, A.D.2d at 497 (reversing trial court's decision and reinstating jury's award for compensatory in a defamation case)).
Here, Plaintiff's testimony at trial establishes that she suffered injury as a result of Defendants' def amatory statements. Plaintiff testified that she felt and
by the def amatory statements on The Blot website, including the claim that she was a slave to a Plaintiff expressed concern that if she were to for a job ... [her] future employers would see [these (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 294) at 1018-19) Plaintiff also testified that she found it and that Wey would write such statements,
Defendants have not the Court's instructions.
"just life." iliL 1019)
"portray prostitute," "[i]t everything." Mat 1020)
- She "don't involved." iliL 1021)
- Swedish - "look bad," "all [Plaintiff]." ilib)
So cafe, [I]t' ilil
iliL Ziv "was posted," "is internet." Mat Ziv Plaintiff
@:at and that it made her angry that Wey gets to continue to try to break [her] down or destroy [her] at
Plaintiff also testified that she did not feel comfortable returning to her small hometown of Vetlanda, because the Blot articles [her] like [she is] some kind of
and would be just too embarrassing to try to explain Plaintiff also testified that her relationship with her aunt, Helena Bouveng, has been damaged as a result of the Blot statements. and her aunt talk as much as before, and [her aunt] [doesn't] want to be at Plaintiff suffered emotional distress because of Wey's efforts in the Blot articles to make her aunt a member of the parliament
As a result of the Blot articles, Plaintiff has lost a lot of friends and people don't want to be around me anymore. I really don't want to go out and see people either. I don't want to meet people. I don't want to post stuff or anything because I feel I will get abused and I feel bad. He is stalking me. whatever I do, if I post it, I'm here at this he will know where I am. . . . I have applied for jobs, but I don't feel as confident as I did before. . . . s been a tough year. at 1025-26)
Dr. confirmed that Plaintiff had suffered emotional distress as a result of the defamatory Blot articles, particularly from the allegations about prostitution and drug use. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 228) at 252-53) also told that she was upset that the Blot headlines and images appeared first in the results of Google searches of her name. at 251, 253) testified, however, that although Plaintiff upset when [the articles] were first she
relieved that [they are] no longer on the 253, 255) And, as discussed above, testified that exhibited no continuing psychiatric symptoms as a result of Defendants' actions, and Plaintiff described no such symptoms to her. 226-27)
Some Plaintiff "humiliated" "embarrassed" Plaintiff Plaintiff
The evidence of the emotional distress suffered as a result of Defendants' defamatory statements is similar in some respects to the evidence concerning the emotional distress she suffered as a result of Wey's sexual harassment. of the testimony offered - for example, that she was and by the Blot articles - is vague and conclusory. And offered no medical evidence to corroborate her testimony about emotional distress. did, however, offer detailed testimony about the effect of the defamatory statements on her personal relationships, including the loss of friends and strained relationships with family members. The defamatory statements have discouraged from socializing and from returning to her small hometown, and have hurt her confidence in applying for jobs.
In arguing that the compensatory award for defamation is excessive here, Defendants rely on Rossignol v. 185 A.D.2d 497 (3d Dept. 1992); Weldy v. Airlines, No. 88 Civ. 0628E(M), 1995 WL 350358 (W.D.N.Y. May 1995); and the Walia case discussed above. (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 66-68)
In Rossignol, [p ]laintiff was the victim of a 2 112-year ordeal orchestrated by defendants during which time his professional and personal integrity were called into question. He was labeled a child abuser ... and accused of having sexual intercourse with and performing deviate sexual acts upon a four-year-old child in addition to beating her and indiscriminately injecting her with needles. Rossignol, 185 A.D.2d at 499. accusations ... were communicated to and local social services agencies and to plaintiff's employer, and prompted numerous Id. at 498.
The jury awarded plaintiff but the trial court remitted the award to Id. The remittitur was upheld on appeal.
$800,000 award," "plaintiff
thereto." $85,000 "[t]he
Piedmont 350358 30, - - "he assault.'"
"very, upset" - "didn't
assault" - "could
$150,000 damages." "shockingly excessive,"
The Third Department found that proof failed to establish the presence of substantial injury so as to justify the jury's original because has been able to maintain continuous employment in his profession and is not suffering from any traumatic medically corroborated physical or psychological conditions attributable Id. at 499. The reduced award was appropriate because physical and psychological ramifications attendant to ... addressing, defending and dealing with these baseless accusations are well established in the record, as is the fact that such charges are difficult to escape, especially in the small community where plaintiff lives and practices his Id. at 499-
In Weldy v. Airlines, No. 88 Civ. 0628E(M), 1995 WL (W.D.N.Y. May 1995), plaintiffs employer told plaintiff in the presence of others that
was being terminated because of 'aggravated Weldy. 1995 WL 350358, at *2. The jury found the employer liable for defamation, and awarded plaintiff in compensatory damages. Id. at * 1. In granting a remittitur, the court noted that although plaintiffs testimony that he was very scared and because he think anybody would hire [him] [given] the aggravated have been taken by the jury as showing the plaintiffs then humiliation and embarrassment, there was no evidence that such had any substantial and enduring effect so as to justify an award of in compensatory
Id. at *3. The court found the compensatory award and concluded the highest justifiable compensatory damages award is Id. at *4. 27
As noted, Defendants also rely on Walia, the facts of which have been discussed above. Given the widespread nature of the defamatory statements here, their duration, and their relative permanence on the internet, Walia provides no useful guidance as to an appropriate compensatory award.
"embarrassment" "humiliation" Plaintiff "had
Plaintiff Plaintiff, Plaintiffs
Plaintiff, "sex slave," "extortionist," "street walker," "fraudster," "fugitive," "cocaine honey," "attempt[ing] US$1 [Wey]," "defraud[ing] JP bank," "blackmailing
shakedown," "kicked America," "vying
price." Here, this Court concludes that evidence of the emotional distress suffered as a result of the Defendants' defamatory statements cannot support a $1.5 million compensatory damage award. As in Rossignol, not suffering from any traumatic medically corroborated physical or psychological conditions to Defendants' defamatory statements. Rossignol, 185 A.D.2d at 499. And as in Weldy, there is no evidence here that the and about which testified any substantial and enduring Weldy, 1995 WL 350358, at *3.
As to loss ofreputation, however, the circumstances in Rossignol and Weldy are drastically different from the circumstances here. Defendants engaged in a daily campaign of Internet-based defamation against that lasted for approximately ten months (see Ct. Ex. 2 (Stipulation)), during which time over separate viewers visited The Blot Magazine's website each month. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 228) at 193) Defendants also used search engine optimization techniques to ensure that Blot articles concerning would appear high on any search engine result list regarding thus maximizing the damage to reputation. In an effort to ensure that Blot articles would appear first in response to a search of
name, Defendants went so far as to arrange for phony and fabricated to be made on Blot articles about her. (Court Ex. 1 (Stipulation))
The Blot articles themselves are replete with egregiously defamatory statements about referring to her as, inter alia, a
and dealer's and accusing her of to extort billion out of Morgan Chase an American in a mafia-style being out of and for the attention of drug dealers and male patrons [at a nightclub] ready to pay for some 'special services' at a
(See PX PX PX PX PX PX
"was assault."' See 350358,
"were State employer."
future." 705 Supp. 206 "the
卥攬縧 61at1,2; 63 at 2; 64 at 2; 85 at 1, 4, 24; 87 at 8, 17; 98 at4, 12, 14, 15) The Blot articles include many images of her family, and her friends, together with defamatory statements or images. For example, one of the Blot articles features a photograph of and James Chau vet superimposed on a photograph of a white powdery substance on a tabletop, and bears the caption 87 at 19)
Defendants' defamatory statements are far more extensive - both in terms of dissemination and duration- than the defamation at issue in the cases cited by Defendants. For example, in Weldy, the defamation consisted of one statement made to a small group of people that plaintiff being terminated because of' aggravated Weldy, 1995 WL
at *2. The defamatory statements in Rossignol were of a serious nature, and received greater dissemination: they communicated to and local social services agencies and to plaintiff's Rossignol, 185 A.D.2d at 498.
Here, however, the defamatory statements in the Blot were not only outrageously egregious in nature, but also reached hundreds of thousands of people, and appeared on the first page of search results when name was entered into Google.com over the course of a ten month period prior to trial. 28
Court Ex. 2 (Stipulation); cf. Dattner v. 81 A.D.2d
The jury may also have concluded, from the evidence presented at trial, that The Blot's defamatory statements about would not soon disappear from the internet. The jury was entitled to take into account future harm to the plaintiff's reputation, as well as any humiliation or mental anguish that plaintiff would suffer in the Cantu, F. 2d at 228 (citing Calhoun, A.D.2d at 497). Indeed, the jury was instructed to award Bouveng
sum that you find from the preponderance of the evidence will fairly and justly compensate her for any damages you find she has sustained, and is reasonably certain to sustain in the future, as a direct result or as a reasonably foreseeable consequence of a defendant's (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 244) at 1628 (emphasis added)). If the jury took future harm to reputation into account, based on the continued presence of Blot articles on the internet in some form, the jury's concern would have been well founded. A Google search of name conducted a recently as March 28, 2016, continues to yield links to the Blot articles associating Plaintiff with criminal acts and sexual misconduct.
"has 7,500 copies");
1102, 1104 2009) "there disseminated" "it
Union Sch. 770, 101 1002, 1003
2014 (S.D.N.Y. 2014) 70)
"the Ponzi scheme." 2014
"peculiarly province." Plaintiff Plaintiff's 50,000
Plaintiff Plaintiffs (Stipulation);
90 572, 574 (2d Dept. 1981) (finding compensatory damage award excessive where the newspaper in which a defamatory article appeared a relatively small circulation of Allen v. CH Energy Grp., Inc., 58 A.D.3d (3d Dept. (reducing compensatory damage award where is no evidence that the statement was widely and appears to have been heard by a very small number of people and perhaps only one
There is also an aspect of accessibility and permanence here that cannot be ignored, and which reflects the enormous change in the media now used to disseminate
Benjamin Wey, Journalist Benjamin Wey Responds to Hanna Bouveng Blackmail, Million Extortion, The Blot Magazine (Feb. 25, https://www.theblot.com/journalist-benjamin wey-responds-hanna-bouveng-blackmail-extortion-7736305. 29
The defamation at issue in the instant case is also far more extensive than the defamation at issue in Angel v. Levittown Free Dist., 171 A.D.2d 772 (2d Dep't 1991), Nellis v. Miller, A.D.2d (4th Dep't 1984), and Dalbec v. Gentleman's Companion, Inc., 828 F.2d 921, 928 (2d Cir. 1987), cited by Defendants. (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 68) Defendants reliance on Massre v. Bibiyan, No. 12 Civ. 6615(KPF), WL 2722849
June 16, is likewise misplaced. (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at In that case, plaintiff sued for defamation based on defendant's posting of an entry on Ripoff Report, a consumer reporting website, ... that claimed, among other things, that [plaintiff] was facing civil and criminal charges because of his involvement in a Massre, WL 2722849, at *I. After a default was entered, plaintiff requested in compensatory damages for the def amatory statements posted on the Ripoff website. Id. The magistrate judge recommended that plaintiff's claim for compensatory damages be denied, and the district court agreed. Id. at * 5. While Massre involves the calculation of a damage award by the court following a default, this case involves a jury's award after a full trial. As noted above, a jury's compensatory damage award in a defamation case is within the jury's Yammine, 43 A.D.3d at 521. In any event, has produced much more evidence about the nature of Defendants' conduct than did the plaintiff in Massre, providing a more substantial record for determining the harm to reputation. For example, the editor of The Blot Magazine testified that over
separate viewers visited The Blot's website each month during the period that Defendants' defamatory statements about were on display (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 228) at 1 93 ), and the jury heard testimony about how Defendants utilized search engine optimization techniques to maximize the damage to reputation. (Court Ex. 2 Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 228) at 153) Moreover, the statements at issue here are far more extensive than those in Massre, as they appeared in numerous articles and accused of committing numerous crimes and other misconduct. Accordingly, the Massre court's denial of compensatory damages does not foreclose a large award in this case.
Plaintiff, "[c]ases simply itzjury
Osorio 05 10029(JSR), 2007 2007), "plaintiff defamatory statements. In the past, defamation plaintiffs might sue over a slanderous statement made in conversation, or over a one-day story in a newspaper, or about an account delivered over radio or television in a minute or two. The impact of defamatory statements was much more apt to be transitory, particularly for a private figure - such as Hanna Bouveng - who suffered defamation in connection with a private matter. We in a different world today, where consideration of a job applicant might well begin with a Google search. And once defamatory statements find their way onto the internet, they do not disappear overnight, as this case demonstrates.
In calculating the damage to reputation, the Court concludes that it was reasonable for the jury to consider, inter alia, the media used to transmit, disseminate, and store the defamatory statements; the accessibility of this media to anyone with an interest in Hanna Bouveng - including a prospective employer; the permanence of this material; and the likelihood of future harm to reputation, all of which were demonstrated by the evidence in this case. Moreover, the jury instructions concerning compensatory damages for defamation gave broad latitude to the jury to consider all of these matters. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 244) at 1628-30)
Defendants argue, however, that regardless of the severity, dissemination, and duration of their defamatory statements regarding in the defamation context
fail to result in six-figure damages awards absent a significant to the plaintiffs business (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 68) It is true that the largest compensatory damage awards approved by New York courts in defamation cases involve reputational injuries suffered by well-established business professionals.
In v. Source Enterprises, Inc., No. Civ. WL 683985 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 2, for example, was the Editor-in-Chief at The Source
magazines." 2007 "rested
Scott's "branded industry" "exceed range" 10
Similarly, 705 Supp. 220 2010),
"a Mexico," "works
"engaged Magazine, which the evidence showed was one of only a handful of leading hip-hop Osorio, WL 683985, at *6. The plaintiffs defamation claim on a statement [defendant Raymond] - a former officer of defendant Enterprises, Inc. -] made in an interview with ... a writer for the website Id. During the interview, told the writer that plaintiff - who had complained to her employer about gender discrimination - to extort us to be like listen ... if you promise not to fire me or ... [give me] some type of contract then I'll take the complaint Id. (citation omitted). statement was later published in an article on the AllHipHop.com website. id. at *I The jury - which considered only non-economic damages- awarded plaintiff $3.5 million in compensatory damages for damage to her reputation. Id. at * 5, * The court upheld the award:
[W]hile the award was undoubtedly substantial, there was adequate evidence of damage to plaintiff's reputation in the hip-hop industry following the publication of the article containing defamatory statement. . . . The jury could reasonably have credited plaintiffs testimony that defamatory statement had [her] as a criminal in the and thereby impaired her ability to work in that industry .... In these circumstances, the $3.5 million award does not the reasonable for recoveries. Id. at * (citations omitted).
in Cantu v. Flanigan, F. 2d (E.D.N.Y. the court considered a defamation claim brought by Cantu, businessman who lives in Mexico City,
who in the petroleum industry, and ... [who] has worked hard to build a world-wide reputation within that industry as a man of Id. at 222. Flanigan- the defendant and a businessman who served as president of a Bahamian corporation - believed that Cantu could help him collect on a judgment that Flanigan had obtained against a Mexican petroleum workers union. Id. at 222-23. In order to persuade Cantu to assist him, Flanigan
in a course of conduct designed to pressure [Cantu] into either paying [Flanigan] the
United States, President Saddam
contracts"; "the inflammatory"; "the world"; "addressed
source"; "engaged deliberate
extortion." "ha[d] amount of the default judgment, or using his position and influence to [Flanigan] collect from the Id. at 223. In furtherance of this scheme, Flanigan prepared a legal complaint against Cantu alleging that he the operations manager of a racketeering enterprise, and that he had laundered large sums of Id. The document also alleged that Cantu was involved in drug cartels, had illegally smuggled oil into the and had conspired with Iraqi
Hussein to illegally circumvent sanctions against Iraq. Id. Flanigan then met with a reporter from a widely-circulated Mexican magazine, and submitted a copy of the draft complaint to the Eastern District of New where it became publicly accessible on an electronic database. Id. at 223-24. An article published in the Mexican magazine - which was circulated around the world - repeated Flanigan's allegations. Id. at 224. The article also prompted criminal investigations of Cantu by the Mexican and governments. Id. At trial, Cantu introduced evidence that damage to his reputation had resulted in an inability to secure [several] multi-million dollar Id.
The jury awarded Cantu $150 million in compensatory damages for harm to his reputation. Id. at 226. The court sustained the award, because (1) a positive reputation throughout the petroleum industry and  his reputation for honesty and fair business practice was recognized throughout the world by his and t ]he evidence  indicated that [plaintiffs] reputation enabled him to secure large, multi-million dollar (2) defendant's statements were ... (3) statements at issue were circulated throughout the (4) the statements [plaintiff's] professional reputation within the petroleum industry ... and were made such that they would appear to be coming from a credible and (5) the defendant in a course of conduct that can only be described as attempted criminal Id. at 228-29. The court noted that it
York $150,000,000 case."
case," Prozeralik N.Y.2d See 705 Supp. Prozeralik,
Y 70- ("Prozeralik II").] $4,000,000
("Prozeralik I!'').] On "deviate[
[Prozeralik 1020, 1020 ("Prozeralik IV").] $1,500,000 $6,000,000 "injury
community," $3,500,000 Prozeralik 17810583 (Sup.Ct., ("Prozeralik "); Prozeralik IV, 1020. found no instances where ajury has awarded, or a New court has upheld, a verdict as large as for non-economic damages in a defamation Id. at 229. The court nonetheless concluded, however, that the award did not deviate materially from reasonable compensation. Id. at 231.
In upholding the jury's compensatory damages award, the Cantu court noted that courts have approved at least one multi-million-dollar damages award in a defamation citing v. Capital Cities Communications, Inc., 82 466 (1993). Cantu, F. 2d at 229. In
a television station and a radio station both falsely identified a prominent local businessman as the victim of an abduction and beating, and falsely stated that the F.B.I. was investigating the possibility that the businessman owed a debt to organized crime figures. [ 82 N. .2d at 4 71 After a jury trial, plaintiff was awarded $1,487,525 to compensate for his direct financial losses, as well as to compensate for non-economic injuries, including mental suffering and damage to plaintiff's reputation. v. Capital Cities Communications, Inc., 188 A.D.2d 178, 185 (4th Dept. 1993)
appeal, the appellate division held that this award did not ] materially from what would be reasonable Id. In doing so, the court explained that it found several factors to be important. I, 188 A.D.2d at 184-85. First, the appellate division found it significant that the plaintiff owned several businesses in the area, and that his businesses depended upon his reputation within the community. Id. the appellate division found that a reputation for being involved in organized crime would tend to cause plaintiff's customers to withdraw their financial support from plaintiffs businesses. Id. Third, the appellate division noted that defendant did not challenge the additional award of$1,487,525 for direct financial loss. Id. Taken together, these considerations led the appellate division to uphold the award of
for non-economic injuries. After the case was remanded on other grounds, the appellate division once again upheld an even larger award of compensatory damages. v. Capital Cities Communications, 222 A.D.2d (4th Dept. 1995)
According to the appellate division, it was acceptable to award plaintiff
for direct financial loss, for non-economic to the plaintiff's reputation and standing in the and for non economic emotional harm. v. Capital Cities Commc'ns, Inc., No. 48424, 1995 WL Niagara County Mar. 24, 1995) III 222 A.D.2d at
Osorio, Prozeralik Plaintiff
Street Cantu, F. Supp. 2d at (footnotes omitted).
Defendants here argue that dramatically overreaches by pretending that her case compares to defamation cases with multi-million dollar awards. [These J cases ... involved plaintiffs who established significant business reputations, and injury to their reputations, with ample trial (Def. Reply Br. (Dkt. No. 284) at 35) It is true that the courts in these cases sustained juries' large compensatory awards based on evidence that the plaintiffs - who had each attained a significant degree of professional status - suffered damage to their reputations as a result of defendants' defamatory statements.
Here, however, was at the outset of her professional career. was well educated, and had held a responsible position for a Norwegian marketing firm. But she came to the States in her mid-twenties with the goal of pursuing a career on Wall (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 228) at 222-23, 245; Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 852) accepted a position at a Wall Street investment firm, NYGG, serving as the director of corporate communications, and was being groomed to take on the role of marketing director for a Swedish life insurance company. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 232) at 489, Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 236) at 815-17, 916-18)
Acknowledging that was at the outset of what appeared to be a promising career - and had not established a professional reputation in any way comparable to the professional reputations of the plaintiffs in Cantu, and - nonetheless suffered damage to her budding professional reputation as a result of Defendants' egregiously defamatory statements. In those defamatory statements, Defendants accused not only of sexual misconduct, prostitution, drug dealing, and alcoholism, but also of a host of crimes - including visa fraud and bank fraud- and financial misdeeds victimizing her Wall
- Plaintiff -
"all injury." U.S. 350 employer. In particular, Defendants accused Bouveng of extorting, blackmailing, and defrauding her employer.
Defendants carefully and maliciously chose falsehoods and lies that would do maximum damage to burgeoning professional career, and then employed a media that would disseminate those falsehoods and lies as broadly as possible, and in such a manner that they would likely be seen by anyone who was contemplating hiring Bouveng. It is not hyperbole or speculation to suggest that any substantial firm engaged in finance, marketing or public relations the areas in which has worked and where her ambitions lie would, after reading such allegations as the result of a Google search, hesitate to interview such a person, much less offer them a position. We live in a highly competitive, information-driven world, and most employers will not have the time or inclination to investigate whether such disturbing allegations are true. They will simply move on to the next candidate. Accordingly, it is idle to suggest that Bouveng' s professional reputation has not been damaged by Defendants' defamatory statements. It has been grievously damaged.
To accept Defendants' arguments here would give a license to those with power and resources to disseminate defamatory falsehoods that destroy careers before they can become well established. It cannot be that a defendant can escape liability for causing such damage by choosing a victim who is at the outset of her career. Indeed, there is a compelling argument that plaintiffs at this stage of their careers are more vulnerable and more worthy of a remedy than more established individuals who have the resources and business networks necessary to more effectively combat the falsehoods and lies that have damaged their professional reputations.
This Court recognizes that [damage] awards must be supported by competent evidence concerning the Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 323, (1974). It also
"[n]ew cases." 705 Supp. So
"internet reach," "the issue," "'do recognizes, however, that factual scenarios may arise that warrant larger awards than those approved in prior Cantu, F. 2d at 226-27 (citing v. Wing Tat Realty, Inc., 259 A.D.2d 373, 374 (1st Dept. 1999) (review of damage awards be based upon case precedent alone, because comparison of injuries in different cases is virtually
The unique nature of the instant case warrants a significant compensatory damage award, despite the fact that was at the outset of her professional career at the time Defendants' defamatory statements were disseminated.
In the internet age in which we live, an individual's online presence is as important - perhaps more important early on - than her physical presence. Acting out of pure malice and spite, Defendants used the internet to ensure that no prospective employer would interview Bouveng, much less hire her, by intentionally disseminating scores of the most professionally damaging lies and falsehoods about her that they could conceive of. is entitled to compensation for the damage Defendants have caused to her professional reputation, and they will not be heard to complain that she has not listed the interviews she never obtained, or the jobs she lost, as a result of their egregiously defamatory falsehoods. Having caused the harm, Defendants cannot escape the liability.
Defendants argue that the extent contends that the mode of publishing the statements at issue here - through The Blot, an internet magazine, using search engine optimization - is an aggravating factor ... , such an argument should be viewed with skepticism." (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 73) Defendants acknowledge that publications have the potential to have great but they argue that, because of sensationalist tone of The Blot articles at recipients of the defamatory statements not necessarily attribute the same level of credence to the statements [that] they would accord to statements made in other
contexts."' iliL Sandals Int'I, Google,
"readers allegedly contexts," "posted rooms,"
"FBI criminal records." See "[State official deportation." [See
York "peculiarly province," "prudence awards."
at 73-74 (quoting Resorts Ltd. v. Inc., 86 A.D.3d 32, 43- 44 (1st Dept. (internal quotation marks omitted))
Resorts Int'l, Ltd. v. Google, Inc., 86 A.D.3d 32 (1st Dept. 2011), the case on which Defendants rely, notes that the premise that give less credence to
def amatory remarks published on the Internet than to similar remarks made in other generally applies to remarks in message boards and in chat or to online and anonymous, widely distributed emails. 86 A.D.3d at 44. The format of The Blot Magazine is that of a standard news website, however. As this Court has previously stated,
[The Blot Magazine] offers articles in typical categories, such as politics, money, tech, news, health, entertainment, and sports. . . . The articles .. cite from and link to government documents, and they refer to information allegedly obtained from government authorities. For example, the articles report on James Chauvet's criminal record and include hyperlinks to [PX] 61 at 4. The articles also assert that a Department] confirmed that Hanna Bouveng's status would be a serious visa violation subject[ing] her to immediate arrest and PX 63 at 6.) ... The point is that the articles purport to present facts about plaintiff Bouveng and her associates. The articles make factual assertions that are capable of being objectively characterized as true or false, and the assertions that are made are quite clear and direct. (June 11, Conf. Tr. (Dkt. No. 216) at 6-7) This Court thus rejects Defendants' assertion that viewers of Blot articles would give them less credence because of the format in which they appear.
As this Court noted at the outset, compensatory damage awards in defamation cases are - under New law - within the jury's and this Court must use and restraint ... in the exercise of its discretion over these Yammine, 43 A.D.3d at 521 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Here, the jury considered
standing in the community, the nature of the statement[s] made about [P]laintiff,
Standard "Regarding "'reasonable
repetition.""' Supp. the extent to which the statement[s] w[ere] circulated, the tendency of the statement[s] to injure a person such as [P]laintiff, and all of the other facts and circumstances in the including the existence of present harm to reputation and the likelihood of future harm to reputation. Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 244) at 1628-29)
A consideration of these factors here points in the direction of a substantial compensatory award. A jury that was properly instructed on the law concluded that $1.5 million would fairly compensate Plaintiff for the emotional distress and reputational harm she suffered, and was reasonably likely to suffer in the future, as a result of Defendants' outrageously defamatory statements, which were deliberately disseminated in a fashion to cause maximum damage to Plaintiffs reputation. the unique circumstances of this case, the Court will not disturb the jury's well considered judgment.
Accordingly, Defendants' motion for a new trial concerning compensatory damages on Plaintiffs defamation claim will be denied.
Punitive Damage Awards Defendants argue that this Court must remit the jury's punitive damage awards on defamation claim because they only be the result of passion or prejudice, [are] unconstitutionally high, and should be reduced to an amount reasonable for the non-violent claim of defamation and proportional to a proper compensatory (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 13)
the magnitude of punitive damage awards, due process requires that they be in their amount and rational in light of their purpose to punish what has occurred and to deter its Hill v. Airborne Freight Corp., 212 F. 2d 59, 75
2002) 260 2004) Scott,
"guideposts" Supreme U.S.
cases." 101 805, 809 U.S. Supreme "[p]erhaps
State U.S. 408, (2003)
York 07-CV-853, 2009 2009) ("Factors include
misconduct."' 101 809 U.S. "The
100 (E.D.N.Y. affd, 93 F. App'x (2d Cir. (quoting Vasbinder v. 976 F.2d 118, 121 (2d Cir. 1992) (quoting Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Haslip, 499 1, 21 (1991))). In determining whether a punitive damage award is excessive, courts must consider the
established by the Court in BMW of North Am., Inc. v. Gore, 517 559 (1996), including the degree ofreprehensibility of the tortious conduct; (2) the ratio of punitive damages to compensatory damages; and (3) the difference between this remedy and the civil penalties authorized or imposed in comparable Lee v. Edwards, F.3d (2d Cir. 1996) (citing Gore, 517 at 575).
The Court has noted that the most important indicium of the reasonableness of a punitive damages award is the degree of reprehensibility of the defendant's
Gore, 517 at 575. Courts determine the reprehensibility of a defendant's conduct by considering, inter alia, whether
the harm caused was physical as opposed to economic; the tortious conduct evinced an indifference to or a reckless disregard of the or safety of others; the target of the conduct had financial vulnerability; the conduct involved repeated actions or was an isolated incident; and the harm was the result of intentional malice, trickery, or deceit, or mere accident. Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Campbell, 538 419 (citation omitted); see Norris v. New City Coll. of Tech., No. WL 82556, at *7 (E.D.N.Y. Jan. 14, bearing on the degree ofreprehensibility '(I) whether a defendant's conduct was violent or presented a threat of violence, (2) whether a defendant acted with deceit or malice as opposed to acting with mere negligence, and (3) whether a defendant has engaged in repeated instances of (quoting Lee, F.3d at (citing Gore, 517 at 575- 77))). existence of any one of these factors weighing in favor of a plaintiff may not be
suspect." State U.S.
guideposts," '"so justice."'
Perry, Payne 2012) ("A
- remittitur." Payne, U.S.
101 sufficient to sustain a punitive damages award; and the absence of all of them renders any award
Farm, 538 at 419. With respect to the appropriate ratio of compensatory damages to punitive damages, the Court has reluctant to identify concrete constitutional limits on the ratio between harm, or potential harm, to the plaintiff and the punitive damages Id. at 424 (citations omitted). However, the Court has noted that jurisprudence and the principles it has now established demonstrate ... that, in practice, few awards exceeding a single-digit ratio between punitive and compensatory damages, to a significant degree, will satisfy due Id. at 425.
Even when the award is not beyond the outer constitutional limit marked out ... by the three Gore a court must separately determine whether the award is high as to shock the judicial conscience and constitute a denial of Mathie, 121 F.3d at 816-17 (quoting Zarcone v. 572 F.2d 52, 56 (2d Cir. 1978)); see also
v. Jones, 711 F.3d 85, 97 (2d Cir. federal [district] court is not required to find that the jury's award was so excessive as to violate due process, as the Court was compelled to find in Gore, in order to justify setting the award aside. . . . It therefore follows that a degree of excessiveness less extreme than 'grossly excessive' will justify a finding that supports imposing a (internal citations omitted)). Moreover, federal court in a case governed by state law[ as here-] must apply the state law standard for appropriateness of
711 F.3d at 97 n.8 (citing Gasperini, 518 at 429-30). Accordingly, this Court must apply N.Y. § 550l(c), which- as discussed above - generally that damages awards are excessive or inadequate if they 'deviate materially from what would be reasonable Id. it is not clear from the language of the New York
apply well York legislature only damages.").
similar future."' 101 809
"[l]arge plaintiff," "[Defendants'] violence." "[t]he
misconduct." "reprehensibility provocation" "threat[s]
102 statute that it was intended to to punitive, as as compensatory, damages, it is hard to imagine that the New expected its courts to exercise this supervisory responsibility as to compensatory damages, and not as to punitive
In determining whether a punitive damages award is excessive, a court must in mind the purpose of punitive damages: 'to punish the defendant and to deter him and others from conduct in the Lee, F .3d at (2d Cir. 1996) (citation omitted). The excessiveness inquiry for punitive damages, as with compensatory damages,
comparison with awards approved in similar Mathie, 121 F .3d at 817.
a. Reprehensibility of Defendants' Actions With respect to the reprehensibility of their actions, Defendants not dispute that the jury was entitled to find Defendants' conduct in publishing articles in The to be
and they concede that the jury found that they acted with malice in publishing the defamatory statements in The Blot. (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 75, 78) Defendants argue, however, that punitive damages verdicts typically involve physical injury to the
and that conduct [here] did not involve violence or a threat of Id. at 78. They also argue that evidence ... is vague and speculative at best as to whether the Defendants have been responsible for repeated instances of Id. Finally, they argue that their is mitigated substantially by Plaintiffs
- i.e., her to refer Mr. Wey to law enforcement and to embarrass his family through accusations of forced sexual Id.
This Court finds that Defendants' conduct in publishing the defamatory statements in The was reprehensible to an extraordinary degree. Although Defendants'
Plaintiff. "attack articles" "individuals enemies." "the
career." 縠 Plaintiff "attack articles," "look Chauvet,"
Plaintiffs "attack articles."
"fight," 103) underlining
103 conduct does not involve violence or the threat of violence, the malicious, calculated, and repeated nature of Defendants' conduct- involving countless egregiously defamatory postings over a ten-month period that ended only weeks before trial - requires a significant punitive damage award.
The evidence at trial established that Defendants acted with extreme malice in publishing their defamatory statements about There was ample evidence that Wey used The Blot as a vehicle to write about [who] he considered his
(Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 228) at 146) Indeed, Wey told the editor of the The Blot that reason why he bought The Blot, bought a media company, [was) because this was his mission, to, in his words, get justice ... for what [certain individuals] had done to him in his at 149-50) When Wey decided to make the subject of his he hired a private investigator to into her and also to look into Mr. and he collected hundreds of images from and Chauvet's social media accounts to use in his
(Id. at 183-84, 277)
In a May 24, Facebook message to Camilla Blomqvist, best friend in Sweden, Wey explained how he intended to use The Blot to destroy Bouveng's reputation- and that of her family and friends - in the event that she filed a lawsuit against him:
Camilla, you should know that Hanna wants to get some money out of us through the threat of a lawsuit. She has a lawyer in New thafjust contacted us .... If she sues us, we will have to counter sue her - seeking millions of dollars in damages from her and her family for hurting our reputation. We will have to publish ALL of her relationships and photos with drug dealers, both in articles and in our counter lawsuit against her. All of her family and friends will be dragged in: her father, aunt (Helena), her brother, her family and friends in the
..... If she sues us, we will give her a penny, and we will spend millions of dollars going after her forever .... Don't force us. We will have to fight back .... If Hanna Bouveng would like to have a welcome. (PX (capitalization in original, added)
Plaintiff. Punitive Plaintiff $10 Plaintiffs
"New 710 907, 230,
卥攬縧 $175,000 $100,000 $75,000 $50,000);
$150,000 $20,000 $30,000
508 million $190,000,
104 The jury was entitled to conclude from the evidence at trial that Defendants acted knowingly and maliciously in publishing the defamatory statements concerning
b. The Ratio Between Compensatory and Damages The jury awarded million in punitive damages on defamation claim as against Wey; $1 million in punitive damages as against NYGG; and $5 million in punitive damages against FNL Media. 30
(Judgment (Dkt. No. 249)) Given that the compensatory damage award on defamation claim is $1.5 million, the applicable ratios are: for Wey, more than 1 :6; for FNL Media, more than 1 :3; and for NYGG, less than 1: I.
Supreme Court has 'concluded that [a punitive damages] award of more than four times the amount of compensatory damages might be close to the line of constitutional
Thomas v. iStar Financial, Inc., 652 F.3d 141, 149 (2d Cir. (discussing a 1 :5.7 ratio) (quoting State Farm, 538 at 425). because there are no rigid benchmarks that a punitive award may not surpass, ratios greater than [four to one] may comport with due process where 'a particularly egregious act has resulted in only a small amount of
Defendants have never argued that it was improper for the Court to instruct the jury that it could issue separate punitive damage awards as to each defendant, or that it was improper for the jury to impose separate punitive damage awards on each defendant. In fact, Defendants requested that the verdict sheet list the defendants separately for purposes of awarding punitive damages. (Trial Tr. (Dkt. No. 242) at 1518) Moreover, the Second Circuit has acknowledged that York favors individual assessment of punitive damages." McFadden v. Sanchez, F.2d 914 (2d Cir. 1983) (citing Raplee v. City of Corning, 6 A.D.2d 233 (4th Dept. 1958)). In cases in which defendants argue that a remittitur is necessary as to punitive damage awards against multiple defendants, courts routinely address each award separately. King v. Macri, 993 F.2d 294, 298-99 (2d Cir. 1993) (reducing punitive damages against one defendant from to and against another defendant from to Vasbinder, 976 F.2d at 122 (reducing punitive damages awards of against each defendant to
as to one defendant and as to the second defendant, in light of their different financial condition); Thomas, F. Supp. 2d at 255, 262-64 (reducing punitive damages against one defendant from $1.6 to but leaving undisturbed the punitive damage award against another defendant).
damages."' State U.S. U.S. "The
Supreme "reject[ed] approach"
U.S. State U.S.
105 economic Farm, 538 at 425 (quoting Gore, 517 at 582). converse is also true, however. When compensatory damages are substantial, then a lesser ratio, perhaps only equal to compensatory damages, can reach the outermost limit of the due process
Id. In all cases, must ensure that the measure of the punishment is both reasonable and proportionate to the amount of harm to the plaintiff and to the general damages
Id. at 426.
Defendants argue that, Farm, state and federal courts in New York routinely reduce awards that exceed the constitutionally permissible limit to a ratio of 4: or less for claims in a variety of contexts, including ones involving violence, physical injury, and far more severe emotional injury than present (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 79-81 (citing cases))
Although the Court in Gore [the use of] a categorical in determining the proper ratio for compensatory and punitive damages, it provided the following guidance:
... [L ]ow awards of compensatory damages may properly support a higher ratio than high compensatory awards, if, for example, a particularly egregious act has resulted in only a small amount of economic damages. A higher ratio may also be justified in cases in which the injury is hard to detect or the monetary value of noneconomic harm might have been difficult to determine. Gore, 517 at 582; see also Farm, 538 at 426.
Here, the compensatory award on defamation claim is high. With respect to the difficulty in determining the monetary value of emotional distress and the damage to her reputation, this factor likewise does not warrant a higher ratio of punitive to compensatory damages. Court has instructed district courts reviewing punitive damages awards to consider whether '[t]he compensatory damages for the injury suffered ...
award[.]'" Osorio, 2007 State U.S. '"In include
includes both."' 908, State U.S. ("The
See State U.S.
"[ Second ISG 140
106 were based on a component which was duplicated in the punitive WL 683985, at *3 (quoting Farm, 538 at 426). many cases in which compensatory damages an amount for emotional distress, such as humiliation or indignation aroused by the defendant's act, there is no line of demarcation between punishment and compensation and a verdict for a specified amount frequently elements of Id. (quoting Restatement (Second) of Torts § cmt. c, (1977)); see also Farm, 538 at 426 compensatory damages for the injury suffered here ... were based on a component which was duplicated in the punitive award. Much of the distress was caused by the outrage and humiliation the Camp bells suffered at the actions of their insurer; and it is a major role of punitive damages to condemn such conduct. Compensatory damages, however, already contain this punitive
Here, as discussed above, a substantial part of the jury's compensatory damage award was necessarily based on damage to Plaintiff's reputation. Moreover, the jury's $1.5 million compensatory award may well reflect some measure aroused by the defendant[s]' Accordingly, this factor does not counsel in favor of a higher ratio. To the contrary, under the circumstances here, this Court must take care to ensure that the punitive damages award is not duplicative of the compensatory damages already awarded. Farm, 538 at 426.
Defendants argue that, s ]hould the Court elect not to reduce the compensatory damages verdict substantially, ... the Circuit's recent holding in Turley[ v. Lackawanna, Inc., 774 F.3d (2d Cir. 2014)] would require the Court to .... reduc[e] [the] punitive damages [award] to a ratio that does not exceed (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 87, 89)
"close impropriety." State U.S.
107 In Turley, a jury awarded $1.32 million in compensatory damages and $24 million in punitive damages on plaintiffs hostile work environment claims under 42 § 1981, Title VII, and the Turley, 774 F.3d at 151-52. The district court found that the punitive damage award was excessive, and remitted the award to $5 million. Id. at 152. The
Circuit found the reduced $5 award to be excessive: As a general matter, the four-to-one ratio of punitive to compensatory damages awarded is to the line of constitutional Farm, 538 at 425 .... And where, as here, the compensatory damages award is imprecise because of the nature of the injury and high when compared with similar cases, lesser ratio, perhaps equal to compensatory damages, can reach the outermost limit of the due process Id. The district court's extensive damages judgment here therefore tests these constitutional limits .... Where the compensatory award is particularly high, as the one in this case assuredly was, a four-to-one ratio of punishment to compensation, in our view, serves neither predictability nor proportionality. As noted, this is particularly so where the underlying compensation is, as it is in this case, for intangible - and therefore immeasurable - emotional damages. Imposing extensive punitive damages on top of such an award stacks one attempt to monetize highly offensive behavior, which effort is necessarily to some extent visceral, upon another ....
commitment to reducing arbitrariness in damages awards, reining in excessiveness, and ensuring some degree of proportionality thus weighs in favor of enforcing a tighter relationship between the harm suffered and the punishment imposed. Id. at 165-66 (footnotes omitted).
The court concluded that roughly 2: 1 ratio of punitive damages to what, by its nature, is necessarily a largely arbitrary compensatory award, constitutes the maximum allowable in these Id. at 166. The court then considered a reduced award yielding an approximate 2: 1 ratio of punitive to compensatory damages would be so grossly excessive as to fall outside the boundaries of due
As we have noted, the Court has cautioned that, when a compensatory award is particularly high, a 1: 1 ratio between compensation and punishment may be the maximum award permitted by the Constitution .... We do not think that a 1: 1 ratio is required in the case at bar, though, in light of the extreme nature of the
"imprecise cases." "four-to-one compensation" "serves proportionality."
See I 01 ("We ").
"CEO ]dollar" $30 (PX
108 defendants' conduct. Cf. Gore, 517 at 575 ... (explaining that reprehensibility is the most important indicium of the reasonableness of a punitive damages Thomas[, 652 F.3d at 149-50] (affirming a remittitur requiring an approximately 1.5: 1 ratio in light of moderate level of reprehensibility of [the defendant's] We think that in the aggravated circumstances of this case, an approximate 2: 1 ratio is both permissible under the Constitution and consistent with the established policies adopted and adhered to by this Court. Id. at 167.
Turley's reasoning applies here. As discussed above, the compensatory damage award for defamation is both because of the nature of the injury and high when compared with similar Id. at 165. A ratio of punishment to thus neither predictability nor Id.
As to reprehensibility, as this Court has already explained, Defendants' conduct is at the extreme end of the spectrum. Moreover, it is clear that a large punitive damage award is necessary to deter Defendants from engaging in this type of conduct in the future. Lee, F.3d at 813 recognize that one purpose of punitive damages is deterrence ....
Although Defendants argue that a large punitive damage award against them would cause (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 86), the jury was entitled to credit, and this Court is entitled to consider, the evidence presented at trial concerning Defendants' assets. That evidence included (1) a statement from NYGG's general counsel and board chairman to the
Department of that NYGG's annual revenue exceeds $25 million (PX 3); (2) Wey's statement to Chernrne Koluman that he is the of a ... billion[- firm, and that he makes million a year, 27 at 12, 17), and (3) Wey's statement in his Facebook message to Camilla Blomqvist that will spend millions of dollars going after [Plaintiff] if she sues Wey and his companies. (PX at 3)
Such Plaintiff's claim
"punitive Plaintiff's case."
109 all the circumstances, this Court that a punitive damage award yielding a ration of no more than 1 :1 as to each defendant is appropriate. an award accounts for the fact that the compensatory award on defamation is large, is based on intangible harm, and may reflect factors that are more properly considered in imposing punitive damages. awards are also large enough to deter Defendants' egregious and offensive conduct.
While the Court has considered all of the cases cited by Defendants in determining the propriety and extent ofremittitur, (see Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 82-84), none of these cases is comparable in terms of the extent, scope, nature, and dissemination of the defamatory statements. 31
Defendants' use of the internet to lodge repeated and extensive attacks against as well as their malicious intent in doing so, requires a significant punitive damage award. the [C]ourt recognizes that punitive damages awarded in other defamation actions have ... been lower than those awarded here, those awards involved circumstances in which the dissemination of the defamatory statements were, for the most part, limited in their reach. Here, in contrast, the defamatory statements [were] published on internet web sites which [were] accessible to millions of people, all over the world, on a daily
The Court has also considered Defendants' argument that the damages verdict [was] driven by passion or prejudice resulting from injection of racial and sexual orientation issues into the (Def. Br. (Dkt. No. 256) at 84-85) It was Wey who injected racial and sexual orientation issues into this case, however. For example, the defamatory statements concerning Plaintiff are replete with references to the fact that her boyfriend, James Chauvet, is black. Evidence of these references was thus not a product of Plaintiff's counsel's trial strategy, but rather the result of Wey's decision to emphasize Chauvet's race in his statements defaming Plaintiff. it was Wey's decision to discuss the sexual orientation of one of lawyers in a Blot article defaming In any event, Defendants did not object at trial to evidence ofWey's statements concerning Chauvet's race or the sexual orientation of lawyer, and the impact of these references - at a trial with evidence and allegations as incendiary as those discussed above - was de minimis.
1378/00, 2002 Sup. 2002) $500,000
"was psychopath," "bombed Soviet installations," "kidnapped people"), 309
See Serv., 509 Supp. 210, 2007)
110 Rombom v. Weberman, No. WL 1461890, at *1-2, 11 (Kings Cnty. Ct.
(upholding jury's punitive damage award on a defamation claim where defendant posted statements on several internet websites stating that plaintiff a dangerous
had several and aff'd, A.D.2d 844, 844 (2d Dept.
In sum, the $1 million punitive damage award against NYGG on Plaintiff's defamation claim will remain undisturbed. If does not accept ( 1) a remittitur to $1.5 million of the punitive damage award against Wey on Plaintiff's defamation claim; and (2) a remittitur to $1.5 million of the punitive damage award against FNL Media on Plaintiff's defamation claim, this Court will vacate the punitive damage awards against these defendants and conduct a new trial limited to the question of damages. Kauffinan v. Maxim Healthcare
Inc., F. 2d 221 (E.D.N.Y. (citing Vasbinder, 976 F.2d at 122).
law trial liability trial unless Plaintiff April 10,
NYSHRL sexual claims $150,000; defan;iation claim million; claim million. Clerk
Paul United States Defendants' motion for judgment as a matter of is denied. Defendants' motion for a new as to is denied. Defendant's motion for a new as to damages is granted agrees in writing by 2016, to a remittitur reducing the (1) compensatory damage award on the and NYCHRL quid pro quo harassment
to (2) punitive damage award on the against Wey to $1.5 and (3) punitive damage award on the defamation against FNL Media to $1.5 The of the Court is directed to terminate the motion (Dkt. No. 255). Dated: New York, New York