United States District Court, D. Arizona
Douglas L. Rayes, United States District Judge.
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.
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.
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.
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. Id. at 1219-20. Here, it
is undisputed that Ms. Adams was at all relevant times a
state employee. (Doc. 214 at 23.)
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. 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
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 evidentiary support indicating to the
Court that the amounts sought are reasonable, recoverable,
and founded in law and fact.
Adams has the burden of establishing her damages and
indicating that such amounts are appropriate, but she has not
shown that her special damages,  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).
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