Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Adams v. Arizona Senate

United States District Court, D. Arizona

October 16, 2019

Talonya Adams, Plaintiff,
v.
Arizona Senate, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Douglas L. Rayes, United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is Defendant Arizona Senate's (“the Senate”) Motion to Conform Verdict to Statutory Cap and Alternative Motion for Remittitur or New Trial on the Issue of Damages (Docs. 186, 199, 208), Motion to Preclude Award of Back or Front Pay for the Period After Plaintiff Stopped Drawing Employment Benefits (Docs. 207, 215, 218), and Motion to Preclude Award of Special Damages (Docs. 209, 215, 218), which are fully briefed. The Senate's motions are granted in part and denied in part, as described below.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Talonya Adams brought this action against the Senate under Title VII, asserting claims of race and sex discrimination and unlawful retaliation. (Doc. 10.) At trial, Ms. Adams prevailed and the jury returned a verdict awarding her $1, 000, 000 in compensatory damages. (Doc. 177.) Subsequently, the Senate filed its Motion to Conform Verdict to Statutory Cap and Alternative Motion for Remittitur or New Trial on the Issue of Damages. (Doc. 186.) The Court held an evidentiary hearing on August 14, 2019. (Doc. 214.) At the hearing, the Court requested that the parties submit supplemental briefing regarding back pay, front pay, and special damages. (Id. at 96.) All three motions are now ripe.

         II. Analysis

         To begin, the Court must determine which statutory cap is appropriate. 42 U.S.C. § 1981a(b)(3) provides that, in cases of intentional discrimination in employment,

The sum of the amount of compensatory damages awarded . . . for future pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other nonpecuniary losses . . . shall not exceed, for each complaining party. . . .
(B) in the case of a respondent who has more than 100 and fewer than 201 employees in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year, $100, 000; and . . . .
(D) in the case of a respondent who has more than 500 employees in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year, $300, 000.

         Following the rationale applied in Diaz v. Okla. Bureau of Narcotics, 224 F.Supp.3d 1215 (W.D. Okla. 2016), the Court concludes that Section 1981a(b)(3)(D)'s $300, 000 statutory cap applies. In Diaz, the named respondent was a state agency-the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control (“OBN”). Nonetheless, the court determined that the State of Oklahoma-unnamed in the complaint-was the relevant entity for determining whether a $100, 000 or a $300, 000 cap applied to the jury's award of compensatory damages because the plaintiff, an employee of OBN, was also a state employee.[1] Id. at 1219-20. Here, it is undisputed that Ms. Adams was at all relevant times a state employee. (Doc. 214 at 23.)

         As a result, it is appropriate to look to the State of Arizona as the relevant entity to determine whether a $100, 000 or a $300, 000 cap applies.[2] It is undisputed that the State of Arizona employs more than 500 employees. Accordingly, the compensatory damage verdict award at trial shall be capped at $300, 000.[3]

         Next, the Court must resolve to what extent Ms. Adams is entitled to recover special damages, back pay, and front pay. The Court ordered Ms. Adams to “provide [a copy of] all damage evidence and calculations” to the Court on June 17, 2019. (Doc. 159) (emphasis added). Ms. Adams provided a skeletal list calculating the damages that she seeks to recover. (Doc. 215 at 10-15). But this list generally lacks accessible[4] evidentiary support indicating to the Court that the amounts sought are reasonable, recoverable, and founded in law and fact.

         Ms. Adams has the burden of establishing her damages and indicating that such amounts are appropriate, but she has not shown that her special damages, [5] attorneys' fees, ASRS retirement 6% match, or gross up are even recoverable in these circumstances under the law, let alone demonstrated that the amounts she seeks are appropriate. As a result, the Court will grant the Senate's Motion to Preclude Award of Special Damages (Doc. 209) and deny Ms. Adam's request for attorneys' fees, ASRS retirement 6% match and gross up. See In re Wiggins, 273 B.R. 839, 880 (B.R. D. Idaho 2001) (citations omitted) (“Plaintiffs did not . . . submit specific proof in support of the amount of . . . the compensatory damages they seek to recover. This is clearly their burden, and absent competent proof, the Court will not speculate[.]”); Tourgeman v. Nelson & Kennard, 900 F.3d 1105, 1109 (9th Cir. 2018) (holding that the plaintiff bears the burden of proving damages); Gotthardt v. Nat'l R.R. Passenger Corp., 191 F.3d 1148, 1158 (9th Cir. 1999) (same).

         Now, the Court turns to back pay. First, it is not in dispute that Ms. Adams is entitled to pre-termination back pay. (Doc. 214 at 27.) However, the parties disagree about the amount to which Ms. Adams is entitled. Notably, back pay liability “shall not accrue from a date more than two years prior to the filing of a charge with the [Equal Employment Opportunity] Commission.” 42 U.S.C. 2000e-5(g)(1). Ms. Adams filed her EEOC charge on July 23, 2015. (Doc. 103-1 at 124.) Therefore, Ms. Adams may recover for the period between July 24, 2013 through February 13, 2015, an approximately ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.