Drug wholesaler McKesson Corp. won an 82% reduction of a $19-million jury verdict that resulted from an employee's lawsuit for wrongful termination.
San Francisco-based McKesson must now pay $3.41 million ($1.41 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages), a California appeals court in Sacramento said in a ruling filed Tuesday. The company also must pay the employee's lawyer fees.
In May 2004, a jury awarded Charlene Roby $19 million for wrongful termination, harassment and disability discrimination. Roby was fired from her receptionist job in April 2000 after having worked at McKesson for 25 years. She said the firing was because she suffered from panic attacks and had missed too much work.
"The evidence supports the inference that McKesson saw Roby as an easy target, who could be forced out of the company by enforcing an inflexible attendance policy," the ruling said. "While we find the evidence sufficient to support punitive damages, we conclude that a substantial reduction in the size of the award is necessary to comport with constitutional constraints."
McKesson spokeswoman Kate Rohrbach and Roby's lawyer David deRubertis could not be reached for comment.
Shares of McKesson rose 7 cents to $51.02.