Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Harvard Westlake Lawsuit Punitive Damages

Reader tip: There is an Archive for the HW articles.

This goes into some discussion of the punitive damage phase of the litigation at Harvard Westlake. It looks as though the parties are still in a deadlock. At this juncture we can only speculate what may happen.

We do know that there's been little public discussion. However, it appears as though the defense counsel is going down two tracks.

Track one is to fight the current litigation. The second track is one that appears to be going down one of recovering damages from their own counsel.

Punitive damages are above and beyond compensatory damages. Over time as we get into the litigation phase, this blog will go into more details with additional general updates related to "Harvard Westlake punitive damages." In the meantime, you may find the following interesting:

Due Process and Campbell

First, there's the Campbell case, which went to the US Supreme Court. You'll find links not only to the opinion, but also the case docket, and oral arguments.

Of interest is the discussion on notifications to the board; we'll have to see how well the Harvard Westlake case dovetails with these particular lines in Campbell oral argument.

Punitive Damages Jury Instructions

Another interesting article to read is from the University of Pennsylvania. If you have the time, I encourage you to skim over the footnotes carefully. They can give you a good idea of the complicated nuances involved and the scope of the Supreme Court interest in punitive damages.

Overall, you'll see that it's difficult to come up with a good formula for punitive damages: What's an appropriate ratio between compensatory damages and punitive damages depends on many factors varying from state to state, inter alia:

  • Defendant conduct
  • Wealth of the defendant
  • Scope of the misconduct [severity, duration]
  • Whether the punitive damages would likely mitigate similar conduct in the future.

    Morgan Stanley: Punitive damages case study

    As an illustration of how this works, there's an interesting case in the news: Morgan Stanley. The court found Morgan Stanley had committed fraud in not providing e-mail evidence to plaintiff. The jury this week is discussing appropriate punitive damages. Jurors heard testimony that Morgan could pay $1.8 billion with a "B" and still be fine.

    With respect to Harvard Westlake, at this juncture it appears as in the O'Reilly case, the issue isn't so much whether the Harvard Westlake procedures were in place, but to what extent the responses deviated from those standards; and what would be a suitable financial remedy to punish Harvard Westlake.

    As you can imagine, management is not all that happy with this publicity. Which is exactly why it is needed. It appears all the other efforts were ignored. And the conduct was not isolated.

    Thus, we question whether the current suit would credibly cover all previous incidents.

    If punitive damages are going to be litigated [as opposed to settling], it is likely plaintiffs have lined up other students, former administrators, or other personnel who can dive into the history at Harvard Westlake.

    Indeed, ghosts return at inconvenient times.

    LAPD Hit with dmages

    This struck me as foreshadowing of what may hit LAPD in re Caplin case. [More . . . ]