Yesterday, in an employment discrimination case, the New Jersey Supreme Court dramatically limited the right of courts to reduce the amount of a jury’s emotional distress damages award, ruling that courts can only do so in unusual cases.
The case was filed by two brothers, Ramon and Jeffrey Cuevas. The Cuevas brothers are Hispanic. Their employer, Wentworth Property Management Corporation, subjected them to derogatory and humiliating remarks relating to their race. It fired the brothers shortly after Jeffrey complained about the harassment.
After a trial, the jury awarded Ramon over $1 million in lost wages, $800,000 in emotional distress damages and $52,500 in punitive damages. It also awarded Jeffrey $150,000 in lost wages, $600,000 in emotional distress damages and $32,500 in punitive damages. Wentworth asked the trial court to remit (reduce) the emotional distress damages awards, arguing they were excessive.