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U.S. EEOC v. AIC SEC. INVESTIGATIONS

June 7, 1993

U.S. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION and CHARLES H. WESSEL, Plaintiff,
v.
AIC SECURITY INVESTIGATIONS, LTD.; AIC INTERNATIONAL, LTD., and RUTH VRDOLYAK, Defendant.


GUZMAN


The opinion of the court was delivered by: RONALD A. GUZMAN

Pending is plaintiffs' U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and Charles H. Wessel's ("Wessel") motion for entry of judgment on the jury verdict of March 18, 1993. This motion is made pursuant to Federal Rule Of Civil Procedure 58. At the court's suggestion the parties have submitted briefs not only on the issue of the injunctive relief being sought by the plaintiffs, but also on the issues of the limitations on punitive and compensatory damages contained in governing statutes. For the reasons listed below this motion is granted in part and denied in part.

 BACKGROUND FACTS

 This action is brought pursuant to Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12111 et seq., and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, 42 U.S.C. § 1981a. The EEOC and the Intervening Plaintiff, Charles Wessel ("Wessel"), alleged that AID discriminated against Wessel on the basis of his disability, terminal cancer, by discharging him from his position as Executive Director at AIC.

 Following eight days of testimony, the jury found that defendants AIC Security Investigations, Ltd. ("AIC") and Ruth Vrdolyak ("Vrdolyak"), discharged Wessel because of his terminal cancer, despite the fact that he remained able to perform the essential functions of his position as Executive Director of AIC. The jury then awarded Wessel $ 22,000.00 in backpay; $ 50,000.00 in compensatory damages; $ 250,000.00 in punitive damages against AIC; and $ 250,000.00 in punitive damages against Vrdolyak.

 
1. AIC shall pay Wessel the sum of $ 22,000.00 as back pay based on the jury award, plus interest at the rate of (6%), compounded annually, to the date of judgment, in accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5, incorporated by reference into the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12117.
 
2. AIC and Vrdolyak, jointly and severally, shall pay Wessel the sum of $ 50,000.00 as compensatory damages, based upon the jury award, in accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 1981(a)(b).
 
3. AIC shall pay Wessel the sum of $ 200,000.00 as punitive damages, reduced from the jury award of $ 250,000 in accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 1981(a)(b); provided that, the sum of compensatory damages and punitive damages paid by AIC to Wessel shall not exceed $ 200,000.00
 
4. Vrdolyak shall pay Wessel the sum of $ 250,000.00 as punitive damages, based upon the jury award, in accordance with the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1981a(b).
 
5. AIC, its officers, agents, employees, successors, and all those in active concert or participation with them, or any of them; and Vrdolyak, are enjoined from engaging in an employment practice which discriminates against any qualified individual on the basis of disability, including, but not limited to, discharging any qualified employee because of his or her disability.
 
6. AIC, its officers, agents, employees, successors, and all those in active concert or participation with them, or any of them; and Vrdolyak, shall not engage in retaliation or reprisal of any kind against any person because of such person's opposition to any practice made unlawful under the ADA, because of such person's filing a charge, testifying or participating in any manner in any investigation, proceeding or hearing under the ADA, because such person was identified as a potential witness for the EEOC in this action, because such person participated in any manner in this action or in the investigation giving rise to this action, or because such person asserts any right under this Judgment.
 
7. With seven (7) days of the entry of Judgment, AIC and Vrdolyak shall provide a copy of the Notice attached as Exhibit A to every employee of AIC. In addition, AIC and Vrdolyak shall post a copy of the Notice on the premises of AIC in a conspicuous location in an area commonly frequented by employees of AIC. AIC and Vrdolyak shall also post a copy of the Notice in a conspicuous location at every site where AIC currently posts general notices to its employees working on contract as security guards.
 
8. AIC and Vrdolyak shall maintain and keep available for inspection and copying by the EEOC records providing the following information with respect to any employee who is disabled within the meaning of the ADA: name, address, telephone number, social security number, date of hire, date of disciplinary action if applicable, date of discharge if applicable, and reason for any adverse employment action.
 
9. Every six (6) months for the duration of this Judgment AIC and Vrdolyak shall provide to the EEOC a report including the information set forth in the records described in Paragraph 8.
 
10. This Judgment shall remain in effect for a period of three years from the date of entry.

 Defendants have objected to paragraph (2) of plaintiffs' proposed judgment because the jury award of $ 50,000.00 in compensatory damages is excessive and against the weight of the evidence at trial. Defendants further object to paragraph (2) of plaintiffs' proposed judgment because it impermissibly fails to aggregate "the sum of the amount of compensatory damages awarded and the amount of punitive damages awarded" for purposes of the statutory caps on such damages. See 42 U.S.C. § 1981A(b)(3).

 Defendants have objected to paragraphs three (3) and four (4) of plaintiffs' proposed judgment because plaintiffs failed to aggregate "the sum of the amount of compensatory damages awarded and the amount of punitive damages awarded" for purposes of the statutory caps on such damages. See 42 U.S.C. § 1981A (b)(3). Defendants similarly claim that the award of punitive damages as listed in paragraphs three (3) and four (4) is excessive. Defendants further object to paragraph four (4) arguing that it wholly ignores 42 U.S.C. § 1981A(b)(3) which states that the total compensatory and punitive damages recoverable by Wessel "shall not exceed" $ 200,000.00. *fn1" In addition, defendants argue that plaintiffs have incorrectly concluded that the Civil Rights Act of 1991 places no cap on the compensatory or punitive damages awarded against Ruth Vrdolyak.

 As to paragraphs five (5) through (10) defendants object to the requested injunctive relief arguing that it is punitive in its effect and would not serve any principles of equity. In addition, defendants object to the proposed three year period and the posting of the EEOC's Notice at the property of AIC's clients arguing that it is intrusive, would cause the loss of such clients, and would serve no equitable purpose in light of the massive media attention and publicity given to this action since its inception.

 Finally, defendants claim that the injunctive relief is nonsensical in that it would apply to "any person" filing a charge, opposing an unlawful practice under the ADA. Defendants point out that they already prohibited by lay from retaliating against AIC's employees of applicants in accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3.

 DISCUSSION

 THE AWARD OF COMPENSATORY DAMAGES WAS NOT ...


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