Wal-Mart Urges Federal Judge to Overturn Verdict in $31 Million Discrimination Lawsuit

Friday, March 11, 2016
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On March 2, 2016, Wal-Mart asked a New Hampshire federal judge to overturn a jury’s verdict against the company in a discrimination case, as well as a $31 million award. Maureen McPadden, a pharmacist formerly employed by Wal-Mart, accused the retail giant of gender bias and wrongful termination after she complained that her medical information had been disclosed by one of her colleagues.

Click here to read more about her claims and this case.

Why Was She Really Fired?

In a motion requesting a new trial, Wal-Mart argued that McPadden provided a collection of confusing statements and poor connections to support her claims. McPadden claims the retailer used her loss of a pharmacy key as an excuse to fire her after she complained that colleagues accessed and shared her medical information while she was out on sick leave.

Unfortunately for Wal-Mart, a New Hampshire federal jury agreed with McPadden. In January 2016, McPadden was awarded $15 million in punitive damages and another $15 million in enhanced compensatory damages.

To read the jury’s verdict, click here.

Statutory Cap Lessens Award Amount.

On February 2, 2016, a U.S. District Judge decreased the $15 million in punitive damages to $300,000. He cited a “statutory cap” on Title VII claim damages and Wal-Mart wants the rest to go as well. Wal-Mart said in a statement, “In this case – a case that the court repeatedly characterized at ‘weak’ – the jury’s award was so grossly excessive that it shocks the conscience. The magnitude of this damages award is so extravagant that it indicated bias, passion, prejudice, corruption or improper motive, such that it calls into question the entire verdict and thereby warrants a new trial.”

To read Wal-Mart’s motion for a new trial, click here.

Wal-Mart Will Continue to Fight the Verdict.

Wal-Mart complained that the jury had wrongfully awarded McPadden and moreover, there was zero evidence supporting her claims of wrongdoing. A spokesperson for Wal-Mart said that they respectfully disagree with the verdict since it was handed down in January 2016, and will continue to fight it.

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Trader, Stewart. “Wal-Mart wants $31M Discrimination Verdict Undone.” Law360. (March 2, 2016). Web.

Rand, Katheren. “NH Jury Awards Former Walmart Pharmacist $31 Million in Discrimination Case.” JD Supra. (February 12, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Discrimination, wrongful termination, gender bias, HIPAA violation, protection of medical information, New Hampshire Law Against Discrimination, statutory cap, Wal-Mart discrimination lawsuit, legal representation of pharmacists, pharmacy defense lawyer, defense attorney, Florida health law attorney, Health lawyer, health law, The Health Law Firm

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