June 27, 2018

Los Angeles jury awards $28 million in punitive damages for age discrimination

Mynewsla.com reports that an L.A. Superior Court jury awarded $28 million in punitive damages, on top of $3 million in compensatory damages, in an age discrimination lawsuit against Sybron Dental Specialities, Inc. and KaVo Kerr Group. 

A story yesterday reported that plaintiff's counsel Carney Shegarian asked for an award of $73 million in punitive damages.  The jury may have thought they were compromising by awarding "only" $28 million.  As we have noted before, research has shown that the most significant predictor for a large punitive damages award is a large request.  (See Sunstein, Punitive Damages: How Juries Decide.)  That is part of the reason why some courts prohibit plaintiffs from "anchoring" a punitive damages award by requesting a specific number. Clearly the trial court in this case didn't follow that approach.

The story quotes Mr. Shegarian as stating that the award in this case may be the largest of its kind in Los Angeles legal history.  The defendants may try to use those quotes against him if they challenge the award in posttrial motions or on appeal.