February 1, 2017

New Jersey federal jury awards $50 million in punitive damages against Lockheed Martin

A few days ago, Law.com reported that a jury in federal district court in New Jersey has awarded $1.5 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages in an age discrimination suit against Lockheed Martin. 

The article says the plaintiff bought claims under New Jersey state law and the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).  The Fifth Circuit recently reaffirmed that the ADEA does not authorize punitive damages, so presumably the punitives were awarded under state law.  But even if New Jersey state law permits punitive damages for such claims, the award is not likely to survive post-trial review, given the 33-to-1 ratio between punitive and compensatory damages.