May 5, 2018

San Diego jury awards $16 million in punitive damages against Allstate in employment case

The San Diego Union Tribune reports that a jury this week awarded $2.6 million in compensatory damages and $16 million in punitive damages against Allstate Insurance in an employment case involving some unusual facts.   

According to the story, Michael Tilkey, a longtime Allstate employee, was arrested on domestic violence charges after an argument with his then-girlfriend.  Prosecutors dismissed he charges after Tilkey entered into a plea deal requiring him to attend anger-management classes. His ex-girlfriend, however, sent an email to Allstate accusing Tilkey of threatening her.  She demanded that the company investigate Tilkey's conduct. Allstate fired him three months later, after concluding that he violated company policy by engaging in threatening behavior.

Tilkey's lawsuit accused Allstate of violating state law by firing him for an arrest that did not result in a conviction.  Apparently the jury not only agreed with that theory, but was sufficiently outraged by Allstate's misconduct that they awarded a huge amount of punitive damages.  Allstate says it will appeal.