This week the Massachusetts Appellate Court affirmed at $6,700,000 award for Malvina Monteiro in her discrimination suit against the City of Cambridge.  Ms. Monteiro was employed for the City of Cambridge, and she filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination against the city during 1998.  The city fired Ms. Monteiro during 2003, and Ms. Monteiro filed a separate claim alleging that the city discharged her in retaliation for filing an action with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.  The jury found in favor of Ms. Monteiro on her retaliation claim, and awarded her $4.5 million in punitive damages.  Ms. Monteiro was also awarded $2.2 million in interest, attorney's fees and costs.

The Appellate Court affirmed the jury's award in favor of Ms. Monteiro.  In its opinion, the Court states that it "cannot conclude that the damages awarded were . . . disproportionate to the injury caused."

I don't see how any municipality or company can continue to operate when faced with legal liability of this magnitude.  Everybody knows about the lawsuit against McDonald's in which the plaintiff was awarded $2.7 million for spilling hot coffee on herself.  The punitive damages awarded in this case, however, are over two times as much, and in the McDonald's case the judge reduced the punitive damages to under $500,000.  It is clear that the damages awarded in Monteiro were wildly disproportionate to the injury the plaintiff suffered.  The Monteiro case stands as another example of the Commonwealth's hostility towards employers and businesses.