A federal magistrate judge Wednesday reduced a jury verdict by $4.7 million in a disabilities discrimination case against Wal-Mart.The judge said that due to federal caps on punitive damages he was legally obligated to lower the payout but believes that the verdict now will be less likely to change Wal-Mart:
In doing so, Eastern District of New York Magistrate Judge James Orenstein said that the $300,000 federal cap on punitive damages in the Americans with Disabilities Act would have little impact on changing the behavior of a "commercial titan" like Wal-Mart.The original lawsuit was brought by Patrick Brady who suffers from cerebral palsy:
"There is no meaningful sense in which such an award can be considered punishment," Orenstein wrote, pointing out that Wal-Mart had $300,000 in sales every 37 seconds last year.
He sued Wal-Mart under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and state law. In February, a Central Islip, N.Y., jury found that personnel at the store in Centereach, N.Y., violated federal and state laws by making a prohibited inquiry before giving Brady an employment offer.
The company also subjected Brady to adverse employment conditions by transferring him from the pharmacy to a more physically taxing position pushing carts in the parking lot, according to the verdict.