Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Saturday, June 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

En Banc 9th Circuit to Weigh Miner’s Damages

(CN) - The full 9th Circuit will consider the amount of punitive damages a female miner should receive for being sexually harassed by her supervisors, the appellate court said Friday.

A federal jury in Arizona awarded Angela Aguilar $1 in nominal and more than $800,000 in punitive damages in 2011, finding that she had been harassed by male supervisors while working at ASARCO's Mission complex, a huge, open-pit copper mine south of Tucson.

The District Court later reduced the jury's award to $300,000 to comply with the statutory maximum, and the 9th Circuit cut it down to $125,000 on appeal in 2013.

The three-judge appeals panel based its reduction on a punitive-to-nominal ratio of 125,000-to -1 set down in 2008 in Abner v. Kansas City Southern Railroad Co. -- the "highest ratio we could locate among discrimination cases," according to the panel.

"Given Asarco's highly reprehensible conduct and the presence of a comparable civil penalty in the form of the Title VII damages cap, we conclude that the Constitution does not bar the imposition of a substantial punitive award in this case," Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain wrote. "But this does not change the fact that a 300,000 to 1 ratio raises our 'judicial eyebrows."

Both sides filed petitions for review before an 11-judge, en banc panel, which the appeals court agreed to convene in a brief order published Friday. The previous opinion is no longer valid as precedent.

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.