Friday, August 25, 2017

Punitive Damages

Punitive Damages: Monetary compensation awarded to an injured party that goes beyond that which is necessary to compensate the individual for losses and that is intended to punish the wrongdoer.

Here's an article describing what "Punitive Damages" means.

From the article:

California Civil Code § 3294. Exemplary damages; when allowable, definitions

(a) In an action for the breach of an obligation not arising from contract, where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice, the plaintiff, in addition to the actual damages, may recover damages for the sake of example and by way of punishing the defendant.
OK, this sounds good.  I'm a big believer in the laws of karma...
(b) An employer shall not be liable for damages pursuant to subdivision (a), based upon acts of an employee of the employer, unless the employer had advance knowledge of the unfitness of the employee and employed him or her with a conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others or authorized or ratified the wrongful conduct for which the damages are awarded or was personally guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice. With respect to a corporate employer, the advance knowledge and conscious disregard, authorization, ratification or act of oppression, fraud, or malice must be on the part of an officer, director, or managing agent of the corporation.  
OK, this part describes why a CEO might claim they had no knowledge of what his employees were doing when they broke the law.

So, what are these terms that qualify a CEO for punitive damages:
(1) “Malice” means conduct which is intended by the defendant to cause injury to the plaintiff or despicable conduct which is carried on by the defendant with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others.(2) “Oppression” means despicable conduct that subjects a person to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of that person’s rights.(3) “Fraud” means an intentional misrepresentation, deceit, or concealment of a material fact known to the defendant with the intention on the part of the defendant of thereby depriving a person of property or legal rights or otherwise causing injury.
Oh dear... this appears to be exactly what happened to me.  The CEO of The Sliding Door Company, Doron Polus, intentionally and with malice placed me in a hazardous environment without regard to my safety.  Neither he nor his managers informed me of any additional safety precautions I was required to take in my new office - including ear protection, fork-lift paths, safety barriers, eye wash station and other safety hazardous areas and equipment that employees must be informed about when working in an warehouse environment.  Despite knowing of these issues, he showed complete disregard for my safety.  He concealed evidence in my case and that is fraud, not to mention obstruction of justice.

But wait... there's more...

Where the punitive damages will truly come into play is the relationship between Mr. Polus and product safety.  I was punished because I was reporting fraud and safety concerns about his products.  THAT is where the punitive damages will really come in.  
Remember this case?

A 12-person jury awarded Boly $916,000 in lost wages up until a retirement age of 67, $625,000 for emotional distress and $1.5 million in punitive damages. Under Oregon law, 70 percent of the $1.5 million in punitive damages will go to the state.
On top of that, Legacy will be ordered to pay Boly's attorney's fees, which Seidl estimates at about $500,000. 

 Here's another more recent one from just last month:
(CNN)On Monday, a jury awarded a California woman $417 million because she developed ovarian cancer and had used Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder for decades. The award includes $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages.
There is no question the CEO of The Sliding Door Company has put profit over safety and seems to have little regard for the safety of his employees and customers.  There certainly will be a good reason for a judge to consider punitive damages for what Mr. Polus has done not just to me, but to other employees and the safety of the general public.

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