Ralphs’ Damages Reduced in Harassment Case

Discussion
Jul 18, 2002
George Anderson

As reported on Law.com, a San Diego judge reduced the $30 million punitive damages verdict in a sexual harassment case against Ralphs Grocery Co. to $8.25 million. In an 11-page order, Superior Court Judge Michael Anello found that the punitive damages awarded to the six female plaintiffs were “grossly excessive” and were the result of the jury’s “passion and prejudice.”

Judge Anello noted that “there was no evidence to support the conclusion that the allegedly offending Roger Misiolek was a managing agent of defendant, and that the evidence was insufficient to support the conclusion that defendant approved of or ratified Mr. Misiolek’s conduct.”

The new order came three months after a San Diego jury granted what is believed to be the largest punitive damages award for a sexual harassment case in California, and among the top three in the United States. The first judge had ordered a new trial on the punitive damages because one of the jurors was a shareholder in Ralphs’ parent company, Kroger Co.

Under this latest decision, plaintiffs have 10 days to decide whether to accept the substantially reduced award or undergo a new trial.

Moderator Comment: Are sexual and other forms of discrimination/abuse of power common in the predominantly male retailing and CPG industries?

We have been told, off-the-record, several times by women in the industry that sexual harassment and gender bias are more commonplace than we would like to believe. Now is the time to go on the RetailWire record even if it is anonymously. Click “handle only” for ID and check yes for ok to publish comments. [George Anderson – Moderator]

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