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Estate of Barbara L. Reynolds v. Martin

February 09, 1993

ESTATE OF BARBARA L. REYNOLDS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
LYNN MARTIN, SECRETARY OF LABOR, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. D.C. No. CV-84-7012-VRW. Vaughn R. Walker, District Judge, Presiding.

Before: Warren J. Ferguson, Stephen Reinhardt, and Alex Kozinski, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Ferguson.

Author: Ferguson

FERGUSON, Circuit Judge:

The Secretary of Labor appeals the district court's award of pre- and postjudgment interest on damages awarded to Barbara Reynolds in her wrongful discharge suit under the Rehabilitation Act. We hold that the Civil Rights Act of 1991 entitles Reynolds to pre- and postjudgment interest on her award. Thus, we affirm.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff-appellee Barbara Reynolds was an employee of the Department of Labor from July 1, 1979 until September 26, 1980, when she was discharged. After exhausting administrative remedies, Reynolds sued the Secretary of Labor in the district court, alleging violations of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq., the Civil Service Reform Act, 5 U.S.C. § 1201 et seq., and breach of contract. The district court granted summary judgment for the Secretary. Reynolds appealed, solely with regard to her Rehabilitation Act claim. On appeal, we reversed and remanded the case for trial. See Reynolds v. Brock, 815 F.2d 571 (9th Cir. 1987).

Reynolds died while the case was pending on remand. The administrator of Reynolds' estate was substituted for her as plaintiff. The parties consented to trial before a magistrate without a jury. The court found that Reynolds' discharge violated the Rehabilitation Act. Citing the remedial provisions of the Act, the court awarded back pay, with prejudgment interest, and costs including attorney's fees. Judgment was entered accordingly. The judgment stated that Reynolds was also entitled to postjudgment interest under 28 U.S.C. § 1961.

The Secretary moved for an amendment of the judgment to eliminate the award of interest. The motion was denied. The district court determined that the interest provision of the Back Pay Act, 5 U.S.C. § 5596, applied to Reynolds' back pay award.

The parties entered into a settlement agreement that resolved all issues in the case except the issue of Reynolds' entitlement to interest on her back pay award. Thus, the only question remaining in the case is whether an employee of the United States found to be entitled to back pay under the Rehabilitation Act is entitled to an award of pre- or postjudgment interest on that back pay.

Discussion

We review the district court's award of interest on Reynolds' back pay award in light of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which became law after the district court entered its judgment in this case. We conclude that the Act applies to cases pending on its effective date and thereby entitles Reynolds to receive pre- and postjudgment interest on her back pay award under the Rehabilitation Act.

Jurisdiction and Standard of Review

We have jurisdiction over this appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1291. Whether Reynolds is entitled to interest on the back pay awarded by the district court is a question of law that we review de novo. See United States v. McConney, 728 F.2d 1195, 1201 (9th Cir. 1984) (en ...


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