We have considered the RD, the record, such as it stands, and the parties' own evaluations of the appropriate amount of compensatory damages. We do not agree with defendant's attempt to diminish the harm plaintiff suffered, and can see, even from the dry record, that she did suffer a significant amount of anguish, almost on a daily basis, for an extended period. By the same token, we do not accept plaintiff's figure of $ 275,000, especially insofar as this represents nearly three times the amount of compensatory damages she originally sought. Considering all of these factors, we find the appropriate amount of compensatory damages to be $ 75,000.
B. Punitive Damages
We turn to the assessment of punitive damages. Punitive damages are appropriate in case of callous disregard for a plaintiff's rights. Smith v. Wade, 461 U.S. 30, 51, 103 S. Ct. 1625, 1637, 75 L. Ed. 2d 632 (1983) cited in U.S. v. Balistrieri, 981 F.2d 916, 936 (7th Cir. 1992). Punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant for outrageous conduct and deter him and others like him from similar conduct in the future. Smith, 461 U.S. at 54, 103 S. Ct. at 1639. Defendant disputes the availability of punitive damages in this case based on 42 U.S.C. § 1981a(b)(1), but we have addressed and rejected defendant's argument in a separate order. As the conduct herein, already described above, clearly evinced a callous disregard for plaintiff's rights, all that remains is to arrive at an appropriate amount for an award.
Plaintiff's request for punitive damages in this case has varied from $ 25,000 to $ 50,000. Because defendant does not believe punitive damages are available, he does not address the appropriate amount of punitive damages. In arriving at our assessment, we take note of the cap for total damages in this case under 42 U.S.C. § 1981a(b)(3)(D): $ 300,000. Hennessy v. Penril Datacomm Networks, Inc., 69 F.3d 1344, 1355 (7th Cir. 1995). Given our assessment of $ 75,000 in compensatory damages, the maximum award of punitive damages available would be $ 225,000. This maximum award must be reserved for only the most egregious cases. Hennessy, 69 F.3d at 1355-56. We also look to other cases for guidance. In the case defendant cited as an example of an adequate award of compensatory damages, for example, the Seventh Circuit upheld an aggregate punitive damage award of $ 150,000--three times the compensatory damage award--against an individual and the corporation of which she was the owner and chief officer. EEOC v. AIC Security Investigations, Ltd., 55 F.3d 1276, 1287 (7th Cir. 1995). Some other punitive damage awards from this circuit have ranged from $ 20,000 in Sassaman v. Heart City Toyota, 879 F. Supp. 901, 911 (N.D.Ind. 1994), to a total award of $ 300,000 in Emmel v. Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Chicago, Inc., 904 F. Supp. 723, 729, 740-41 (N.D.Ill. 1995), of which just $ 7,325 represented compensatory damages. In Hennessy, the court remanded the case for a reduction of a $ 100,000 award, which was the maximum available under the cap in that case. 69 F.3d at 1355-56.
Hennessy involved some instances of unwelcome sexual advances, but turned on the disparate treatment of plaintiff due to her pregnancy. The Emmel case, unlike the instant case, involved sexual discrimination in promotions. Sassaman is most analogous to the instant case. A sexual harassment case, it involved a course of conduct by several individuals, some whom were in management, encompassing, insulting language and questioning, unwelcome touching, and differential treatment, all culminating in the plaintiff's termination. Sassaman, 879 F. Supp. at 908-909. Plaintiff's case is similar to Sassaman, but distinguishable in two respects: plaintiff was not discharged, and the course of harassment in Sassaman did not result in physical injury and the ignoring of medical restriction resulting from that injury. Thus the plaintiff in Sassaman did not have a threat of physical pain and exacerbation of an injury hovering over her head each day. In addition, Sassaman does not appear to have involved the pervasive atmosphere, condoned and encouraged by supervisors, in which an individual is treated as the sport of an entire workplace.
There is one additional factor we consider before arriving at our assessment. Defendant appears to be unrepentant for all that has occurred. The supervisory personnel involved have not been disciplined because, according to defendant, the ALJ "did not direct the Postal Service to discipline the supervisors and managers, but rather ordered training for these management employees." (Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Motion, at 15 n.6). If the Postal Service requires an order to discipline the type of conduct that occurred here, there is every threat that it will allow it to occur in the future if undeterred. Hopefully, awarding punitive damages may well have a salutary effect in this regard. The defendant's attitude evinces a callous disregard of plaintiff's rights that echoes that of his supervisory personnel. Accordingly, considering the $ 20,000 award in Sassaman, the additional exacerbating factors present in this case, and plaintiff's own quantification of punitive damages at $ 25,000 to $ 50,000, we find a punitive damages award of $ 50,000 to be appropriate in this case.
For the foregoing reasons, it is hereby ordered that the defendant pay plaintiff compensatory damages in the amount of $ 75,000, and punitive damages in the amount of $ 50,000.
EDWARD A. BOBRICK
United States Magistrate Judge
DATE: April 18, 1996
JUDGMENT IN A CIVIL CASE
Decision by Court. This action came to hearing before the Court. The issues have been heard and a decision has been rendered.
IT IS ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that plaintiff, Mitzi Baker's motion for summary judgment on her claim for $ 275,000.00 in compensatory damages and $ 25,000.00 in punitive damages against defendant, Marvin T. Runyon is granted in part and denied in part. The defendant is ordered to pay plaintiff compensatory damages in the amount of $ 75,000.00, and punitive damages in the amount of $ 50,000.00. The plaintiff is further awarded her costs and attorneys fees.
April 18, 1996