Punitive Damages Compensatory Damages

News & Analysis as of

MA Supreme Court Reinforces Employer Obligations on Sexual Harassment

The court’s decision to restore a $500,000 punitive damages award for failure to adequately address a sexual harassment complaint highlights employers’ duty to investigate every allegation and take appropriate remedial...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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Insurance – Bad Faith – Punitive Damages

Thomas Nickerson v. Stonebridge Life Insurance Company - California Supreme Court (June 9, 2016) - Absent special justification, ratios of punitive damages to compensatory damages that greatly exceed 9 or 10 to 1...more

10th Circuit Reverses Punitive Damages Against Property Owner Based on Use of “Reputable” Contractor

As we reported earlier this month, courts sometimes disregard the general rule of non-liability for the conduct of independent contractors, and allow liability to be imposed against principals — including for punitive damages...more

Brandt Fees Increase Allowable Punitive Damages Whether Fees are Awarded by Judge or Jury

In Nickerson v. Stonebridge Life Ins. Co. (No. S213873, filed 6/9/16), the California Supreme Court ruled that in an insurance bad faith case an award of attorney’s fees under Brandt v. Superior Court (1985) 37 Cal.3d 813,...more

Bad Faith Attorneys’ Fees Are Compensatory Damages in Determining Cap On Punitive Damages

On June 9, 2016, the California Supreme Court ruled in Nickerson v. Stonebridge Life Ins. Co., __ Cal.4th ___ (2016) that the attorneys’ fees awarded to a veteran who sued for benefits under a “hospital stay” policy should be...more

Use of ‘Caps’ To Apportion Individual Defendants’ Joint and Several Liability Permitted in Employment Discrimination Action

On April 1, 2016, the United States Court for the District of Connecticut entered judgment on a jury verdict in Bakhit, et. al. v. Safety Markings, Inc. et. al., 3:13-CV-1049, an employment discrimination case, awarding the...more

Colorado Expands Anti-Discrimination Act With Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

On June 1, 2016, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed into law Colorado’s Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. The act, which becomes effective on August 10, 2016, amends the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) and...more

Damages 101

Litigation is inherently results-oriented. Too often, however, even those experienced in litigation tend to blur the lines between subtly different categories of damages. Perhaps it’s time to go back to Damages 101....more

Kentucky Supreme Court Affirms Punitive Damages 386 Times Compensatory Damages; Clarifies Vicarious Liability Standards

Last month, the Kentucky Supreme Court affirmed an award of punitive damages against a hospital, under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), that was a staggering 386 times the hospital’s share of...more

Reflections on the Twentieth Anniversary of BMW v. Gore

Today marks the twentieth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in BMW of North America. Inc. v. Gore, the first time the Court had ever held that a punitive damages award was unconstitutionally excessive under the Due...more

Tenth Circuit Reduces Punitive Award By More Than Ninety Percent In Carbon Monoxide Case

Lately, we have had many occasions to criticize courts’ analysis of punitive damages issues, so it is nice for a change to be able to report on the Tenth Circuit’s insightful decision in Lompe v. Sunridge Partners. Readers...more

Ninth Circuit Leaves it to Policyholder to Pay Eddie Haskell’s Attorneys’ Fees

Moral hazard lurks around the edges of many disputes about liability coverage. Everyone agrees in principle that insurance shouldn’t help bad actors benefit from their wrongdoing, but parties often clash over where the...more

When Are Punitive Damages Too Punitive?

The defendants aren’t in the health care business, but their April 1 victory in the Tenth Circuit has implications for defendants in all lines of business. That’s why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce weighed in with an amicus...more

Hulk-Sized Damages in Sex Tape Privacy and Publicity Case

In 2006, Terry Gene Bollea, better known as “Hulk Hogan,” had sex with his best friend’s wife, Heather Clem. Apparently unbeknownst to either of them, his best friend Todd Alan Clem, now legally known as “Bubba the Love...more

California Court Of Appeal Bends Over Backwards To Uphold Substantial Punitive Award In Asbestos Case

The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires procedural fairness in state trials, but that principle seems absent from a recent California Court of Appeal decision upholding a judgment against Kaiser Gypsum...more

The Hot, Sweaty, Smelly Results are In: You Can’t Sexually Harass Your Employee Even if She’s a Lawyer and You’re a Guru

In a tabloid-worthy legal verdict delivered on January 27, 2016, hot-yoga guru Bikram Choudhury has been found guilty by a Los Angeles jury of sexually harassing his own company lawyer and then firing her after she attempted...more

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