Emotional Distress Damages Remitted From $750,000 to $200,000 in Employment Discrimination Case

In a recent case, Abreu v. Verizon New York, Inc. et al, 15-cv-00058 (EDNY March 25, 2020), the court – following a jury verdict in plaintiff’s favor on his claims of race discrimination and retaliation – held, inter alia, that the jury’s award of $750,000 for emotional distress was too high, and held that $200,000 was an appropriate sum.

From the decision:

Here, the Court views Abreu’s injuries as significant. Plaintiff testified about his anxiety, insomnia and panic attacks. Tr., 541:19-543:2. He went on to explain that there were times when he could not leave his house because he felt afraid, he had recurring nightmares about work, and he had thoughts of harming himself or others. Id. at 543:8-20, 555:17-556:8, 561:23-562:10, 609:20-610:12, 612:5-12. His relationship with his family and wife suffered to the point where he believed his marriage was going to end as soon as his children finished college. Id. at 543:23-544:2, 547:11-22. Abreu’s psychiatrist, Dr. Chan, testified that Plaintiff suffered from major depressive disorder and anxiety, caused by Defendants’ conduct. Id. at 848:12-851:4; Def. Decl., Ex. N. Dr. Chan described Abreu’s symptoms of depression, severe anxiety, panic attacks, terminal insomnia, anhedonia and thoughts of suicide and recommended that he take disability leave. Tr., 844:21-845:7; see also id. at 555:17-556:8. Plaintiff’s testimony was corroborated by two additional doctors: Dr. Dackow, who treated Abreu for post-traumatic stress disorder, id. at 838:19-840:13, and Dr.
Elmore, who determined that there was a causal relationship between Plaintiff’s posttraumatic stress disorder and work-related events.

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