August 26, 2016

Jury awards $1.7 million in punitive damages against Long Beach hospital

The Long-Beach Press Telegram reported earlier this week on a $1.7 million punitive damages verdict against the Community Hospital of Long Beach and a co-defendant, Memorial Psychiatric Health Services.

According to the article, the case involved three former hospital employees who claimed they were subjected to harassment and discrimination by an openly gay male nurse who worked for the defendants.  The jury awarded one of the plaintiffs $1.5 million in punitive damages and $165,175 in compensatory damages (a 9-to-1 ratio), and awarded the other two each $100,000 in punitive damages and $1.4 million in compensatory damages (a .07 to 1 ratio).

According to the article, both defendants presented evidence that they could not afford to pay even the compensatory damages, much less a sizable punitive damages award.  That suggests the defendants will argue in post-trial motions that the award is excessive in relation to their financial condition.