August 29, 2011

L.A. verdict against film producer Jon Peters awards $2.5 million in punitive damages for sexual harrassment

Reuters reports that film producer Jon Peters has been hit with a verdict for $822,000 in compensatory damages and $2.5 million in punitive damages (about a 3:1 ratio) in a case involving claims of sexual harrassment and hostile work environment.

Given that the compensatory damages are "substantial" by most courts' definition (but see the recent Bullock appellate court decision, discussed here), and given that this case does not appear to involve physical injury, it will be interesting to see whether the punitive damages (if found to be supported by clear and convincing evidence of malice) will be cut on postrial motions or on appeal to a 1:1 ratio, on excessiveness grounds.

Related posts:

$1.16 punitive damages verdict returned against Walgreens: will 13:1 ratio stick? [describing recent Calfornia punitive damages verdict in an employment tort case]

Thomas v. iStar Financial, Inc.: $1.6 million punitive damages award in retaliatory discharge case is excessive [discussing appellate opinion that affirmed a trial court order reducing the $1.6 million punitive award to $190,000 (less than a 1:1 ratio)];

Sex and punitive damages [referencing recent New Jersey appellate court ruling on punitive damages in a sexual harrassment case]