Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Leona Helmsley - Round II


As earlier reported here, a New York jury awarded a former employee of one of Helmsley's hotel over $11 million in his claim that she had discriminated against him because he was gay. Yesterday the trial judge reduced the award significantly to $554,000. According to the gay oriented publication, The Data Lounge he thought the jury was influenced by their dislike of Helmsley:
The judge said the jury award -- which included $10 million in punitive damages -- probably resulted from what he called Helmsley's "belligerence" on the witness stand and her "accompanying sneer," which annoyed the jury and succeeded "in keeping the specter of the Queen of Mean alive in the courtroom." "Punitive damages are not a game of Lotto," he wrote, "and more particularly to the matter at hand, Mrs. Helmsley is not a $4 billion pinata for every John, Patrick or Charlie to poke a stick at in the hopes of hitting the jackpot."

For a different picture of the story (literally) check out the New York Post's version. Both sides will appeal. Perhaps overlooked in the shuffle, $500,000 plus is still not an insubstantial sum of money.

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