Women Suing for Sexual Harassment Won’t Concede

Women Suing for Sexual Harassment Won’t Concede

An appeals court has ruled the award determined by a Vista Superior in the case of six women who filed a sexual harassment suit against Ralphs grocery store is excessive in punitive damages. 

The San Diego based court awarded the women $1.5 million in punitive damages in addition to $250,000 for attorney fees and compensation for the eight-year long suit against Ralph’s. 

The women allege that they were physically and verbally abused by their manager, Roger Misiolek in 1995 and 1996, while the company repeatedly ignored their grievances. 

The appeals court countered the initial award stating that $1.5 million was, “sufficient to punish Ralphs and deter it and others from similar conduct in the future.”  The court further stated that the excessive award was gratuitous because the alleged harassment did not pose substantial personal injury or threat of safety to the women involved.

Two of the women implicated in the case have decided to settle, following the ruling of the appeals court and have settled for a sum of $4.5 million in punitive damages. 

Attorney Charles Bird, who is representing the four remaining women claims, “This is far from over.”  Bird maintains that evidence unveiled since the beginning of the trial eight years ago suggests that Ralphs is even more liable for the behavior of Misiolek than the court has realized thus far. 

Helen Wasserman, an attorney representing Ralphs in the case commented, “The court did what it needed to do and what it was supposed to do.”  She further states that Ralphs has yet to make a decision to appeal the judge’s ruling.  “Anytime you have to pay any amount of punitive damages it’s not a good thing,” Wasserman adds. 

A jury originally awarded the plaintiffs $30 million in punitive damages when the case was tried in 2002. A Superior Court Judge Michael Anello however, ruled that the award was unwarranted and reduced the damages to $8 million. 

The four remaining women in the case of workplace sexual harassment against Ralphs will continue to appeal the current ruling. 

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