June 15, 2012

Oakland jury awards $21M in punitive damages against Jehovah's Witnesses

MSNBC.com is reporting that yesterday a jury in Oakland awarded $21 million in punitive damages, on top of a compensatory damages award of $7 million, to a woman who alleged she was sexually abused by a member of the Fremont congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses.  (Jane Doe v. The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, Alameda Superior Court no. HG11558324.)

Defense counsel says he is planning to appeal; he says he is not aware of any other case in which a religious organization was held liable for wrongdoing committed by a church member who was not in an an official position of responsibility.

Update:  Here is a link to the Court of Appeal online docket.  Some documents in the case have been posted here.