by Michael Fox
Trouble for package companies was bi-coastal in the month of May as juries in Florida and California rendered large verdicts.
John Thigpen, a 40 year old former driver for UPS won $669,000 in economic and $5.3 million in non-compensatory damages by a Fort Lauderdale jury in a workers compensation retaliation claim. According to a story now posted on a Teamsters website, two things seem to bother the jury -- an email directing that managers "target" employees with repeated workplace injuries for termination. Thigpen had 7 during his career at UPS. The ground given by the company for his termination was dishonesty, an issued played up by his attorney, "terminating Thigpen for dishonesty, UPS branded him with a 'Scarlet Letter' that made him unable to find a new job with a similar salary. See Jury Awards $6 Million to UPS Driver Who Alleged Retaliation for Filing Claim.
Update: The trial court has granted a new trial, finding the jury's decision influenced by "passion or prejudice." See report here.
Update: The trial court substantially reduced the verdict, but did enter a judgment for $12 million. See the update.
As alternatives to U.S. Mail have grown, maybe the affection for the local mailman has been transferred to the new breed of delivery drivers. You could make a pretty good case for that proposition from these two results.