Punitive Damages

News & Analysis as of

Assault of Home Health Worker by a Patient’s Father Prompts OSHA Violation

A provider of pediatric home health, Epic Health Services, was recently fined $98,000 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in connection with the sexual assault of a home health employee by a patient’s...more

Shoddy Harassment Investigation Comes Back To Bite Employer

Employers, has this ever happened to you? An employee has accused her boss of sexual harassment. Right now, it’s her word against his, but you might be able to find out the truth if you interview her co-workers. The...more

Court Grants $3,000,000 in Punitive Damages for ESI Spoliation (Delaware)

GN Netcom, Inc. v. Plantronics, Inc., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93299 (D. Del. July 12, 2016) - In this antitrust case, the plaintiff motioned the court to grant sanctions for ESI spoliation. In 2012 upon notice of a...more

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Decision Worsens Headaches for Employers Negotiating Pattern or Practice EEOC Claims

In Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Bass Pro Outdoor World, L.L.C., a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the EEOC can seek punitive and compensatory damages for a pattern or practice...more

Creditors Beware-Automatic Stay Violations Can Lead to Massive Punitive Damages

Ohio Bankruptcy Judge Assesses $250,000 in Damages Against Mortgage Lender for Violating the Automatic Stay in Bankruptcy Proceeding - A clerical error by a mortgage lender led to punitive damages and expensive...more

Preventing Limitation of Liability End-Runs

Owners who are dissatisfied with their contractors’ performance increasingly assert fraud-based claims in addition to breach of contract claims because fraud-based claims are not typically barred by contractual waivers and...more

Health Update - July 2016

The Vulnerability of Healthcare Information - According to a report the Brookings Institute issued in May 2016, 23% of all data breaches occur in the healthcare industry. Nearly 90% of healthcare organizations had some...more

California Supreme Court Clarifies Constitutional Limits on Punitive Damages

In Brandt v. Superior Court, the California Supreme Court held that when a plaintiff proves that an insurance company withheld policy benefits in bad faith, attorneys' fees reasonably incurred to compel payment of the...more

Ruling Highlights Importance of Attacking Punitive Damages When Seeking Summary Judgment

Earlier this month, a federal judge denied two multidistrict litigation (MDL) defendants’ bid to dismiss punitive damages in a pelvic mesh suit because they did “not present any arguments” specific to punitive damages,...more

Texas Court Of Appeals Reduces $115 Million Punitive Award To A Mere Shadow Of Itself

Courts applying BMW and State Farm often emphasize the Supreme Court’s admonition that the constitutional line is not “marked by a simple mathematical formula”—typically when rejecting a defendant’s argument that the ratio of...more

Quirky Question #285: Potholes on the Ethical “High Road”

Question: We learned that some of our employees may have been engaging in unethical, and perhaps even illegal, behavior. We don’t tolerate this, so we hired a law firm to conduct an investigation, and based on the results...more

Advertising Law - July 2016 #2

VW Will Pay $14.7B in Largest FTC False Ad Suit - Volkswagen made a $14.7 billion deal with the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, and the California Attorney General over charges that the auto...more

Cha-Ching: The High Cost of Failing to Remedy Workplace Discrimination

Last week, Gretchen Carlson, the Fox News anchor, sued Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, accusing him of harassment and sexism. Though Ailes denies the allegations, the trial will be closely followed, both because of the...more

Governor Baker Approves First Major Overhaul of Massachusetts’ Public Records Law

Massachusetts has its first significant update of its Public Records Law since the 1970s with promises of swifter responses and real consequences including attorney’s fees for failures to comply. In August 2015, we...more

Employment Law Letter - Summer 2016

Last year the General Assembly enacted legislation prohibiting all public and private sector employers from disciplining an employee for “discussing the amount of his or her wages [or] inquiring about the wages of another...more

Genuine Dispute Defeats Both Bad Faith and Elder Abuse

The Paslays sued State Farm for failing to pay a portion of the damage caused to their Pacific Palisades house by a heavy rainstorm and for forcing them to move back into the house while it was still under construction. The...more

Appellate Court Notes

AC36912 - Whitney v. J.M. Scott Associates, Inc. Plaintiff entered into an employment and stock purchase agreement with the owner of the company, that provided if he were terminated without cause before the end of five...more

Punitives Slashed in Wyoming Carbon Monoxide Case

In a case closely watched by tort reformers, a federal appeals court has whittled a $25.5 million punitive damages award to $1.95 million in a carbon monoxide poisoning lawsuit in Wyoming. Reversing much of the lower...more

When Damages May Exceed the Statutory Med Mal Cap

Dr. Steven Nathanson is the defendant in a medical malpractice case involving the death of a patient. On June 24 the court rejected his motion for summary judgment on his claim that punitive damages are barred by West...more

NJ Supreme Court Finds For Employees In Two Recent Cases

Seyfarth Synopsis: In two recent cases, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously expanded state law to protect individuals going through a divorce from discrimination, and remanded another case to the trial court with...more

New Tax Guidance on Wrongful Imprisonment Damages

At the end of 2015, Congress eliminated some of the uncertainty regarding the tax treatment of damages for wrongful imprisonment. Newly enacted Internal Revenue Code section 139F provides that gross income does not include...more

Genuine Dispute Over Cause of Damage and Insureds’ Demolition Before Inspection Negate Bad Faith and Elder Abuse Claims

In Paslay v. State Farm General Ins. Co. (No. B265348, filed 6/27/16), a California appeals court found triable issues of fact regarding whether State Farm breached its contract in paying a water loss, but affirmed summary...more

California Supreme Court Holds That Brandt Fees Awarded Post-Trial By A Court Must Be Included In Denominator Of...

On June 9, 2016, the California Supreme Court issued its decision in Nickerson v. Stonebridge Life Insurance Co., holding that so-called Brandt fees should be treated as compensatory damages when calculating the ratio of...more

Maryland Court of Special Appeals Reaffirms Heightened Standard for Recovering Punitive Damages

On June 1, 2016, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland issued an opinion in 1st Team Fitness, LLC, et al. v. Francesco Illiano, No. 0136, Sept. Term 2015 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Jun. 1, 2016) reaffirming Maryland’s heightened...more

Updates On Some Cases About Which We Have Reported

There have been subsequent developments in several cases about which we have posted in recent months. On April 27, 2016, the California Supreme Court denied review in Casey v. Kaiser Gypsum Co., a case in which the...more

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