Thursday, 14 April 2022 10:59

Tesla’s $137M Racial Discrimination Verdict Reduced to $15M

Written by Maria Merano, Teslarati


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On April 13, U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick reduced the $137 million award granted by jurors to former Tesla employee Owen Diaz to $15 million.

Diaz had accused Tesla of racial discrimination.


Orrick reduced the award of compensatory damages to $1.5 million and maintained the award for punitive damages to $13.5 million. Previously, the jury awarded Diaz $6.9 million in compensatory damages and $130 million in punitive damages.


“Tesla’s motion for a remittitur---that is, a reduction in the amount of damages---is granted in part," Orrick wrote. "Great deference is owed to the jury’s verdict, but after careful review of the record, I conclude that the award of compensatory damages was excessive. I will not reduce it to $300,000, as Tesla advocates. It will be remitted to $1.5 million, the highest award supported by the evidence.


“The punitive damages award must also be remitted under Supreme Court precedent imposing constitutional limitations on punitive damages," Orrick continued. "But again, I will not reduce it to the one-to-one ratio to compensatory damages that Tesla urges. I conclude that, on these facts, the Constitution permits a punitive-damages award of $13.5 million---nine times the amount of compensatory damages."


Tesla advocated for a reduction in compensatory damages to $300,000, which Orrick denied. However, in January, the federal judge said he was inclined to reduce damages as they were “extremely high.” 


The judge also denied Tesla’s request for a new trial. “[T]he weight of the evidence amply supports the jury’s liability findings,” said court documents.


Larry Organ, Diaz’s attorney, told Bloomberg a...

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