status of the defendant plays in determining the excessiveness of punitive damage awards. For example, the BMW Court did not list a defendant's financial condition as one of the "guideposts." In any event, it is clear that Tandy's wealth cannot save a punishment that is deemed to be excessive under the BMW approach.
D. Conclusion as to Excessiveness of Punitive Damage Award
Given the above considerations, this court finds that the jury's verdict as to punitive damages was excessive. While Delbovo's conduct was reprehensible, it was not so egregious to warrant a punitive damage award that exceeded the actual damage award by a 13 to 1 ratio. The largest ratio of punitive damages to compensatory damages in § 1981 or § 1982 actions in this circuit, of which this court is aware, is 5 to 1. See Phillips v. Hunter Trails Community Ass'n, 685 F.2d 184 (7th Cir. 1982) (reducing compensatory damages to $ 10,000 for each of two plaintiffs and upholding a total punitive damage award of $ 100,000 under § 1982). In addition, the largest punitive damage award under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 or § 1982 in this circuit, of which this court is aware, is $ 150,000. See Daniels v. Pipefitters' Ass'n, Local Union 597, 945 F.2d 906 (7th Cir. 1991) (letting stand $ 150,000 punitive damage award under § 1981 and 29 U.S.C. § 185 et seq.). But see Rowlett v. Anheuser-Busch, Inc., 832 F.2d 194 (1st Cir. 1987) (reducing $ 3,000,000 punitive damage award to $ 300,000 under § 1981). Other awards upheld in this circuit have often been as high as $ 100,000. See, e.g., Littlefield v. McGuffey, 954 F.2d 1337 (7th Cir. 1992) (upholding $ 100,000 in punitive damages under § 1982); Williamson v. Handy Button Machine Co., 817 F.2d 1290 (7th Cir. 1987) (upholding $ 100,000 in punitive damages under § 1981); Phillips v. Hunter Trails Community Ass'n, 685 F.2d 184 (7th Cir. 1982) (upholding $ 100,000 in punitive damages under § 1982).
While the jury's punitive damage award in this case was clearly excessive, they plainly intended to award a significant amount in punitive damages and this intention must be given due regard. Thus, the defendants' motion for remittitur is granted in the total amount of $ 475,000. This leaves Florez with a verdict of $ 332,500, of which $ 55,000 is for compensatory damages, $ 2,500 is for punitive damages against defendant Delbovo, and $ 275,000 is for punitive damages against defendant Tandy.
The extent of this remittitur is based on several factors. First, the fairly egregious nature of the conduct in question calls for a significant award of punitive damages against Tandy. Second, the ratio of the remitted punitive damage award against Tandy to the compensatory damages is 5 to 1. This comports with other ratios upheld in this circuit, see Phillips v. Hunter Trails Community Ass'n, 685 F.2d 184 (7th Cir. 1982), and is also in line with the Supreme Court's approximation of the constitutional limit of the ratio, see BMW, U.S. at , 116 S. Ct. at 1602 (noting that a 4 to 1 ratio was "close to the line") (citing Pacific Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Haslip, 499 U.S. 1, 23-24, 111 S. Ct. 1032, 1046, 113 L. Ed. 2d 1 (1991)). Finally, this court finds that the remittitur would fairly compensate Florez without constituting a windfall to him and would also punish Delbovo and Tandy and deter future discriminatory conduct.
In the event that plaintiff should refuse to accept this amount, this court grants a new trial limited to the issue of punitive damages.
WHEREFORE, for the foregoing reasons, defendants Delbovo and Tandy's motion to vacate the judgments entered on the jury verdicts, to set aside the jury verdicts returned against them, and to grant judgment notwithstanding the verdict in their favor on plaintiff's punitive damage claims is denied. Defendants' motion for a remittitur is granted; the amount of punitive damages awarded against defendant Tandy is remitted from $ 750,000 to $ 275,000. Defendants' motion for a new trial on the punitive damages issue is provisionally denied pending plaintiff Florez's decision as to whether to accept the remittitur. If plaintiff agrees to accept total damages in the remitted amount of $ 332,500, defendants' motion for a new trial on the punitive damages issue will be denied with prejudice. Defendants' motion for a new trial on all other issues is denied.
David H. Coar
United States District Judge
Dated: September 12, 1996