New York Team Secures Appellate Win on Behalf of National Home Improvement Chain

New York, N.Y. (August 12, 2022) - New York Appellate Partner Nicholas P. Hurzeler, with New York Partners John J. Doody and David M. Pollack, obtained a significant appellate victory on behalf of a national home improvement chain when a New York Appellate Division panel for the Second Department reduced a jury verdict by more than half.

In this matter, which was covered by Law360, the plaintiff was a customer at one of the chain's stores when he was involved in a confrontation with a man and his wife as they exited the store. The chain's loss prevention official told police that the plaintiff had assaulted the female customer. As a result of the incident, the plaintiff was arrested, spent the night in jail, and was arraigned at the same courthouse where he worked as a staff attorney while wearing only an undershirt and jogging shorts. He also had to disclose his arrest on his judgeship nomination application. The charges against him were ultimately dropped after the chain's loss prevention official told prosecutors that surveillance video showed that the female customer’s assault claims were false.

The plaintiff subsequently sued the home improvement chain and its loss prevention official for allegedly causing his false arrest and interfering with his career goal of securing a New York state court judgeship. At the close of the trial in this case, the jury determined that the defendant was liable for battery and false imprisonment, and awarded the plaintiff $1.8 million for pain and suffering.

On appeal, the panel concluded that the jury’s award for pain-and-suffering damages was excessive. The court acknowledged that the plaintiff suffered reputational harm due to his arraignment and having to disclose his arrest on his judgeship nomination application. However, the panel ultimately determined that the jury’s award "deviated materially from what would be reasonable compensation." As such, it reduced the verdict significantly to $500,000.

Mr. Hurzeler serves as vice chair of Lewis Brisbois’ Appellate Practice. He focuses primarily on briefing and arguing appeals in the First and Second Departments of New York’s Appellate Divisions, with a strong track record of success. In addition to his appellate work, Mr. Hurzeler also handles extensive motion practice for a variety of general liability matters.

Mr. Doody serves as vice chair of the firm’s General Liability Practice and has more than 20 years of trial experience. He specializes in defending clients in matters involving premises liability, lead-based paint litigation, fire litigation, negligent security, products liability, asbestos, medical malpractice, construction accidents, construction defect, and motor vehicle accidents.

Mr. Pollack serves as chair of Lewis Brisbois’ Architects & Engineers Practice and vice-chair of its General Liability Practice. He has extensive national litigation and trial experience in state and federal courts, with a principal emphasis on architects, engineers, and other professional liability defense, products liability, tort and mass tort litigation, as well as insurance coverage.

Read the full Law360 article here (subscription may be required).

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