Juries do the craziest things, sometimes. In a trial a few years ago in the Rio Grande Valley, a jury returned a verdict following several days of testimony. The verdict said yes, the employer violated anti-discrimination laws. But, the jury said no, the employee did not suffer any lost pay or compensatory damages (emotional suffering). But, regarding punitive damages, the jury awarded $200,000. The employee apparently suffered from some Depression, so there was some issue regarding whether he truly mitigated his damages – that is, whether he actually could have and did look for comparable employment. But, even with the possible failure to look for work, he should have been awarded well over $50,000 in lost pay.
To award punitive damages but no lost pay or benefits goes against the trend of most juries. In fact, most juries do just the opposite: they might award lost pay but nothing else. And, under some federal caselaw, punitive damages with no emotional suffering type damages may not be supportable. A court of appeals might find the award of punitive damages lacking in evidence and then take away the entire judgment. So, it is a crazy jury verdict.
The jury was deliberating a relatively long time – over two days, so they were probably deadlocked. The crazy verdict may have resulted from compromises to break the deadlock. I do not know what was offered to settle the case – if anything. But, as my former judge used to say, "the worst settlement is better than the best trial." Because, juries do the craziest things….