United States District Court, D. Connecticut
A., by his Parent and Next Friend Mr. A., and MR, A., Plaintiffs,
HARTFORD BOARD OF EDUCATION and NEW BRITAIN BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER RE: MOTION FOR POST-JUDGMENT
INTEREST (Docs. 275, 276)
Geoffrey W. Crawford, Judge United States District Court
case brought under the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act ("IDEA"), the court on July 19, 2016
ruled on the parties' cross-motions motions for summary
judgment, granting and denying each motion in part. (Doc.
237.) The court affirmed the Connecticut Department of
Education's August 2, 2011 Final Decision and Order (Doc.
19-1) in all respects except for the portion of that decision
that denied an in-home program. (Doc. 237 at 67.) The court
also held that the Hartford Board of Education (HBOE) and the
New Britain Board of Education (NBBOE) are entitled to
summary judgment on Plaintiffs' ADA, § 504, and
§ 1983 claims. (Id.) The court further
concluded that, although Plaintiffs were not successful on
all claims before the Connecticut Department of Education,
they did obtain sufficient favorable determinations to
qualify as "prevailing parties." (Id., at
64.) The court accordingly held that Plaintiffs were entitled
to recover reasonable attorneys' fees "in an amount
to be determined after the filing of supplemental
briefs." (Id. at 67.)
Opinion and Order dated January 17, 2017-after considering
supplemental briefing from the parties-the court granted
Plaintiffs attorneys' fees and costs in the total amount
of $314, 291.12, with HBOE and NBBOE each liable for half of
that sum. (Doc. 264 at 25.) At the court's request, the
parties filed proposed orders of judgment. (Docs. 267, 268,
269-1.) In their proposed order of judgment, Plaintiffs
requested post-judgment interest under 28 U.S.C. § 1961.
(Doc. 269-1 at 5.) HBOE and NBBOE opposed post-judgment
interest on the grounds that no judgment had yet been
entered. (Docs. 272, 273.) After reviewing those filings, the
court issued a Judgment on March 7, 2017. (Doc. 274.) The
Judgment does not include any award for post-judgment
now move under Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) to alter or amend the
Judgment to either; (1) compel Defendants to pay
post-judgment interest on the court-awarded attorneys'
fees and costs from July 19, 2016 to the date of payment, or
(2) compel Defendants to pay prejudgment interest on the
court's fee award at the annual rate of 4% from July 19,
2016 to March 7, 2017, plus post-judgment interest under 28
U.S.C. § 1961 from March 7, 2017 to the date of payment.
(Doc. 275.) Plaintiffs have also moved for a supplemental
award of attorneys' fees for counsel's work on the
Rule 59(e) motion and the motion for a supplemental award
itself. (Doc. 276.) HBOE and NBBOE oppose both motions.
(Docs. 277, 278, 279.)
I. Rule 59(e) Standard
Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) authorizes courts to
"alter or amend a judgment." A Rule 59(e) motion
may be filed to seek reconsideration. Ass 'n for
Retarded Citizens of Conn., Inc. v. Thome, 68 F.3d 547,
553 (2d Cir. 1995). "The major grounds justifying
reconsideration are an intervening change of controlling law,
the availability of new evidence, or the need to correct a
clear error or prevent manifest injustice." Virgin
Atl Airways, Ltd, v. Nat'l Mediation Bd.y
956 F.2d 1245, 1255 (2d Cir. 1992) (internal quotation marks
assert that the Judgment should be altered or amended to
prevent manifest injustice, arguing that post-judgment
interest is mandatory under 28 U.S.C. § 1961, and that
under the "majority rule" concerning the
application of § 1961, the obligation to pay such
interest runs from the date of the court's July 19, 2016
Opinion and Order. Defendants argue that the Judgment is in
accord with § 1961 because that statute concerns
interest calculated from the date the judgment is entered,
which they say is the date of the March 7, 2017 Judgment.
(Doc. 277 at 3; Doc. 278 at 3.)
1961 provides in pertinent part that "[i]nterest shall
be allowed on any money judgment in a civil case recovered in
a district court" and that "[s]uch interest shall
be calculated from the date of the entry of the
judgment." 28 U.S.C. § 1961(a). Thus, under §
1961, "[t]he award of post-judgment interest is
mandatory on awards in civil cases as of the date
judgment is entered." Tru-Art Sign Co. v. Local 137
Sheet Metal Workers Int'l Ass'n 852 F.3d 217,
223 (2d Cir. 2017) (emphasis added) (quoting Lewis v.
Whelan, 99 F.3d 542, 545 (2d Cir. 1996)). The court has
no power to select any date other than the "date of the
entry of the judgment" to trigger the running of
interest. Andrulonis v. United States, 26 F.3d 1224,
1233 (2d Cir. 1994). The parties dispute when the
"judgment" was entered. Plaintiffs say that
interest runs from the date of the "judgment"
establishing the right to the award of attorneys' fees.
HBOE and NBBOE maintain that the "judgment" is the
separate document entered on March 7, 2017.
cases, a motion for attorneys' fees is brought
after entry of judgment. Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(d)(2). In
such cases, where attorneys' fees are authorized, the
amount of attorneys' fees is not fixed until the motion
is ruled on-sometime after the judgment is entered. The rule
in Albahary v. City and Town of Bristol,
Connecticut, 96 F.Supp.2d 121 (D. Conn. 2000), concerns
such situations: in which there is a period of time between
decisions establishing the right to the award of
attorneys' fees and decisions establishing its amount. As
the court recognized in that case, § 1961 clearly sets
the measuring point for calculating post-judgment interest as
the "entry of judgment, " but it remains "an
open question in the Second Circuit whether interest runs
from the date of the judgment establishing the right to the
award of attorneys fees or from the date of the judgment
establishing its quantum." Id. at 123. The
court in Albahary adopted what it found to be the
"majority" approach, ruling that post-judgment
interest runs from the date of the judgment establishing the
right to the award of attorneys' fees, 
Albahary to apply, the decision establishing the
right to an award of attorneys' fees and the decision
establishing the amount of the fees must be
judgments. That was the situation in
Albahaiy. In that case brought under the Resources
Conservation and Recovery Act, the court issued two documents
on September 29, 1998: a memorandum of decision concluding
that the defendant was liable for plaintiffs'
attorneys' fees and costs, and a separate judgment that,
because of a clerical error, was silent as to attorneys'
fees. Albahary, 96 F.Supp.2d at 122. Following the
majority rule, the Albahary court concluded that the
plaintiffs were entitled to post-judgment interest under
§ 1961 calculated from September 29, 1998 until payment
was received. Id. at 124.
not the case here. This case began with
Plaintiffs' request for an award of attorneys' fees
and costs for work performed in the underlying due process
hearing. (See Doc. 1.) The case has proceeded toward
a judgment that would resolve (among other things) the
questions of entitlement to and amount of attorneys'
fees. Here, the court did not enter a judgment at the time it
issued the July 19, 2016 Opinion and Order. That was an
interlocutory order only, as reflected by the fact that
litigation continued to determine the amount of the fees to
which the court had ruled that Plaintiffs were entitled. The
January 17, 2017 Opinion and Order setting the award at $314,
291.12 was also not a judgment, since the court in that order
expressly directed the parties to submit a proposed order of
judgment. (Doc. 264 at 25.) In this case, no
"judgment" was entered until March 7, 2017.
conclusion is consistent with the ordinary definition of a
judgment as an "order from which an appeal lies."
Fed. R. Civ, P. 54(a). Neither the July 19, 2016 decision nor
the January 17, 2017 decision qualifies as a
"judgment." The court's conclusion is also
consistent with the outcome in M.K. ex rel. K. v.
Sergi. In that IDEA case, as here, the court issued a
decision on summary judgment finding that the plaintiffs were
prevailing parties at due process hearings and were entitled
to recover a reasonable attorneys' fee award in an amount
to be determined after the filing of supplemental briefs.
M.K., 554 F.Supp.2d 233, 249 (D. Conn. 2008). After
receiving supplemental briefing, the court awarded a sum for
costs and fees. M.K., 578 F.Supp.2d 425, 435 (D.
Conn. 2008). The court then issued a judgment in the sum that
it had awarded, but without any provision regarding
post-judgment interest. M.K., No. 3:96-cv-482-WIG
(D. Conn. Sept. 30, 2008), ECF No, 330.
the other cases upon which Plaintiffs rely are
distinguishable for the same reason that Albahary
is, The court in Crawford v. City of New London-an
excessive force case-did not quantify the award of
attorneys' fees on June 3, 2014, but it did issue a
judgment on that date. No. 3:11-cv-1371(JBA), 2015
WL 1125491, at *10 (D. Conn. Mar. 12, 2015). See also
Nat. Organics, Inc. v. Nutraceutical Corp., No. 01 Civ.
0384(GBD)(RLE), 2009 WL 2424188, at *11-12 (S.D.N.Y.Aug. 6,
2009) (post-judgment interest accrued from date of
judgment entered on September 6, 2006); Hubbard
v. Total Commc'ns,623 F.Supp.2d 270, 271 (D. Conn.
2009) (judgment entered on December 4, 2007;
post-judgment interest accrued from that date); Forest
Labs., Inc. v. Abbott Labs., No. 96-CV-159S, 2006 WL
7077571, at *4 (W.D.N.Y. May 17, 2006) (awarding
post-judgment interest from "the date the Court entered
judgment"); Aiello v. Town of Brookhaven, No.
94-CV-2622(FB)(WDW), 2005 WL 1397202, at *9 (E.D.N.Y. June
13, 2005) (date that plaintiffs became entitled to receive
attorneys' fees and costs was ...