Monteiro judge’s reconsideration memorandum.
Bob La Trémouille reports.
Thank you to the Cambridge Chronicle for posting the key judge’s decision this year on line at http://www.scribd.com/doc/31878327/monteiro, and thank you to Marilyn Wellons for recognizing the link in the Chronicle report, which I missed.
I have traded the key 2009 decision for this decision and attempted to download this decision to my hard drive.
Scribd tells me it downloaded, but my computer tells me it is not there.
This thing is not directly copiable and I now seem to be in some sort of loop.
In any case, the decision is at the above link. Total postings are apparently 16 pages including other papers which I have already posted.
In order to resolve the oddities, I have retyped the memorandum.
My retyping is perfect except for converting double spacing to single. Some specific formatting has been changed by the blog. An extended quote was double indented in the original and my copy. That has been lost. This formatting is replaced by asterisks preceding and following.
The Court's Memorandum on Reconsideration of the Penal Damages award follows:
COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
MIDDLESEX, ss. SUPERIOR COURT
CITY OF CAMBRIDGE,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON
DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
The Defendant City of Cambridge (“Defendant” or “the City”) has moved for reconsideration of the issue of punitive damages on the basis that the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in Haddad v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 455 Mass. 91 (2009) requires that the award be vacated. The City contends that, as a matter of law, “the standard for the award of punitive damages as enunciated in the Haddad decision was not met in this case.” This Court disagrees.
In Haddad, although there was no claim of error in the instructions given on punitive damages, and the SJC found none, the Court nonetheless “[took the] opportunity . . . to set forth a new standard describing the circumstances in which punitive damages may be awarded.” Id. at 110.
To sustain an award of punitive damages under G.L., c. 151B, §4, a finding of intentional discrimination alone is not sufficient. An award of punitive damages requires a heightened finding beyond mere liability and also beyond a knowing violation of the statute. Punitive damages may be awarded only where the defendant’s conduct is outrageous or egregious. Punitive damages are warranted where the conduct is so offensive that it justifies punishment and not merely compensation. In making an award of punitive damages, the fact finder should determine that the awarded is needed to deter such behavior toward the class of which plaintiff is a member, or that the demendant’s behavior is so egregious that it warrants public condemnation and punishment. Id. At 110-111 (citations omitted; emphasis added).
Although the present case pre-dated Haddad, the jury instructions on punitive damages (which were essentially those requested by the City) emphasized the need for the jury to make findings that the conduct was “outrageous” and “extreme” in nature. Therefore, assuming Haddad applies to this case, the jury instructions were consistent with the standard set forth by theSJC. This Court, however, is of the opinion that the SJC’s discussion in Haddad is not applicable here.
The Court in Haddad made it clear that its new enunciated punitive damages standard was to be applied prospectively, that is, it is “to be applied in (1) all claims for punitive damages under G.L., c. 151B commenced after the date of the rescript in this opinion, and (2) all pending claims that have not gone to judgment in the Trial Court by such date.” Id.
The decision does not appy there to a case such as the present case, where the case has been tried, the jury has been instructed and has rendered its verdict, and post-trial motions have been heard and decided. Here, verdicts were returned on May 23, 2008; this Court entered its decision on post-trial motions, which included uphonding the award of punitive damages, on April 24, 2009; a Motion for Entry of Final Judgment was allowed on May 18, 2009; and Final Judgment entered on June 2, 2009. The only matter “pending” at the time of the SJC decision was a Rule 59 motion concerning the form of the judgment. The City’s motion for reconsideration thus has no legal support.
For the foregoing reasons, the City’s Motion for Reconsideration of its post trial motions on punitive damages is DENIED.
Bonnie H. MacLeod-Mancuso
Judge of the Superior Court
Date: May 20, 2010