MDV - $11.1 Million for Workplace Defamation
by Michael Fox
Not many details yet, in fact the only publicity regarding Thursday's San Francisco verdict of just over $11 million is a press release from the two plaintiffs' attorney. San Francisco Jury Returns $11.1 Million Verdict Against Compuware Corporation in Defamation Lawsuit. According to the release Mary McCarthy and Aidan O'Lee were former employees of Compuware, a Detroit based IT staffing firm. Following their departure, a Compuware executive sent a letter to Schwab Company seeking to save the account.
The jury found that Compuware's letter contained libelous statements about Ms. McCarthy and Ms. O'Lee that damaged their reputations. The jury also agreed that in making the false statements, Compuware acted with malice, oppression or fraud, and that a punitive damage award was necessary to punish defendants for their conduct and to deter them from such action in the future. $10 million of the award was for punitive damages.
$11 million dollar verdicts are not all that common, but it is even more rare for them to be based solely on defamation. A good reminder that speaking ill of others can be dangerous to one's own fiscal health.