Partner Kannon Shanmugam has been recognized as a Law360 “Legal Lion” for successfully arguing that a New Jersey district court should vacate a jury’s $50 million award of punitive damages and grant a motion for a new trial for client Lockheed Martin Corporation. The award was one of the largest punitive damages awards in a single-plaintiff employment-discrimination case in United States history.
In July 2014, a former engineer accused Lockheed of violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination by firing him because of his age. After a four-day trial, the jury awarded the former employee $50 million in punitive damages. Lockheed then filed a motion for judgment as a matter of law and asked for a new trial. Lockheed argued that that the jury’s decision to award $50 million in punitive damages did not line up with the evidence presented at trial because the former engineer had not shown that the company’s management knew about the allegedly wrongful conduct that led to his dismissal.
Judge Bumb wrote that “the jury’s verdict shocks this court’s conscience, and allowing it to stand would constitute a miscarriage of justice.” The court vacated the jury’s punitive damages award and ordered that a new trial be held.
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