Saturday, June 10, 2023

Tesla Judge Calls $137 Million Racism Verdict ‘Extremely High’

Malati Nayak | bloomberg

The judge signaled that he would likely reduce the jury’s $137 million award in damages to former Tesla Inc. contract worker. for racial slurs at his plant in northern California.

The October decision awarded to Owen Diaz by a San Francisco federal court jury is considered one of the largest in U.S. history for an individual plaintiff in a racial discrimination case.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick on Wednesday said he was “concerned” that the $6.9 million jurors awarded in emotional distress “may not be tied to the stress that Mr. Diaz and his witnesses. What’s more, penalties nearly 20 times that amount are “extremely high,” Orrick said at a hearing on Tesla’s request for a new lawsuit.

“However, I acknowledge the terrible history of racial discrimination in this country,” Orrick said. “Especially when combined with working for a company that tried to present itself as a modern, green, disruptive company that positioned itself as a good place to work, it would naturally exacerbate the suffering that Mr. Diaz was experiencing.”

Orrick said he was inclined to dismiss Tesla’s request for a new trial, provided Diaz agreed to a mitigation. He said he would issue a written decision, but did not specify a timeframe.

Diaz’s lawyer, Michael Rubin, tried to convince the judge to uphold the verdict. He argued that the jury awarded Diaz compensation “not on passion or prejudice, but on evidence and within constitutional limits.”

The reparation-to-punishment ratio was appropriate as it was a rare case of “flagrant reprehensibility,” Rubin said. Penalties are meant to punish and deter, and “it’s important to keep that sting,” he said.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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