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RUSH v. SCOTT SPECIALTY GASES

October 10, 1996

CHRISTINE RUSH, Plaintiff,
v.
SCOTT SPECIALTY GASES, INC., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOYNER

 JOYNER, J.

 OCTOBER 10, 1996

 Presently before this Court is Defendant's Motion for Clarification of our August 6, 1996 Order Regarding the Award of Pre-Judgment Interest. For the reasons that follow, we now specify that this Order awarded pre-judgment interest only for that portion of the jury's lost wages award that may be allocated to lost back pay.

 BACKGROUND

 On April 19, 1996, after a two-week trial, a jury awarded Plaintiff Christine Rush a verdict on all but one of her claims against Defendant Scott Specialty Gases, Inc. Plaintiff's claims were based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-- 2000e-17 (1994) and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. §§ 951-963 (1991). The jury's verdict awarded $ 203,000 in lost wages, $ 1,000,000 for pain and suffering, and $ 3,000,000 in punitive damages. On May 6, 1996, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Pre- and Post-Judgment Interest on these damages, with the parties later stipulating that Defendant need not respond to this motion until Defendant's post-trial motions were resolved. On July 13, 1996, we denied Defendant's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law, and denied its Motion for a New Trial on the condition that Plaintiff accept a remittitur of $ 3,600,000 of her damages to $ 603,000-- $ 100,000 for pain and suffering, $ 300,000 in punitives, and the jury's original award of $ 203,000 for lost wages. Plaintiff accepted this remittitur.

 On August 6, 1996, having heard no response from Defendant to Plaintiff's motion, we issued the following Order, which reads in its entirety:

 
AND NOW, this 6th day of August, 1996, upon consideration of Plaintiff's Motion for Pre-Judgment Interest and Post-Judgment Interest on her Award of Monetary Damages, the Motion is hereby GRANTED.[FN1]
 
[FN 1. Awards of interest are authorized under Loeffler v. Frank, 486 U.S. 549, 557-58, 108 S. Ct. 1965, 100 L. Ed. 2d 549 (1988) and 28 U.S.C. § 1961(a).]

 Defendant moves now for clarification of this Order regarding the award of pre-judgment interest. Because Defendant does not seek to clarify the Order with respect to the award of post-judgment interest, we assume that Defendant has no question as to the Order's meaning in this regard.

 DISCUSSION

 Defendant argues that it must pay pre-judgment interest only on the portion of Plaintiff's lost wages award that actually constitutes lost back pay. Defendant contends that, in keeping with the compensatory purpose of pre-judgment interest, it should not be required to pay interest on the awards of punitive damages, pain and suffering damages, and the portion of the lost wages award attributable to future wages (or "front pay"). Before we resolve these claims, however, we must first address Plaintiff's contention that Defendant's failure to file a response to Plaintiff's Motion for Pre- and Post-Judgment interest bars Defendant from raising these arguments now.

 I. WAIVER

 Plaintiff argues that Defendant's Motion for Clarification is simply the long-overdue response to Plaintiff's original motion, a response that we must not consider now because the original motion has already been granted as uncontested. Plaintiff finds support for this argument in Local Rule 7.1, which provides in relevant part that "in the absence of a timely response [to a motion], the motion may be granted as uncontested." Plaintiff contends that this rule bars Defendant from challenging the Order that granted the uncontested motion under the guise of merely seeking to "clarify" it. In short, ...


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