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Cayuga Nation of New York

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Unwelcome news for the state of New York. U.S. District Judge Neal P. McCurn of Syracuse has issued an order that the value of roads, bridges and other infrastructure improvements will not be considered in the second - and final - Cayuga claim damages trial in July. A $36.9 million damage award was set by a federal jury Feb. 17. Since infrastructure value could exceed that figure and the state would not have to pay any damages, the nation considers it a victory. It has held the jury award is unfairly low. The judge will consider two issues the tribe says are important in increasing the award - adding interest and adjusting the rental damage award to current money values, a means of adjusting for inflation. The claim, filed in November 1980, sought return of 64,027 acres of former reservation land in Cayuga and Seneca counties, eviction of current occupants and $350 million in trespass damages. The counties and some 11,000 private landowners are not parties to the damage phase.