Why are the Josephson’s seeking punitive damages and are they likely to get them?
What are punitive damages (Source: http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/punitive+damages)
Punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, may be awarded by a jury (or a judge if a jury trial was waived) in addition to actual damages, which compensate a plaintiff for the losses suffered due to the harm caused by the defendant.
Punitive damages are a way of punishing the defendant in a civil lawsuit and are based on the theory that the interests of society and the individual harmed can be met by imposing additional damages on the defendant.
The purposes of punitive damages are to punish the defendant for outrageous misconduct and to deter the defendant and others from similar misbehavior in the future. The nature of the wrongdoing that justifies punitive damages is variable and imprecise.
The usual terms that characterize conduct justifying these damages include bad faith, fraud, malice, oppression, outrageous, violent, wanton, wicked, and reckless. These aggravating circumstances typically refer to situations in which the defendant acted intentionally, maliciously, or with utter disregard for the rights and interests of the plaintiff.
It is not uncommon for such damages to be assessed in amounts well over a million dollars.
Facts and Allegations (These passages are from the Josephson’s May 29, 2014 offer to settle sent to all defendants):
We are confident that any fair-minded person (especially if they are parents or grandparents) will conclude that Ms. English’s behavior was extreme and outrageous.
She inflicted intense emotional distress on Child1 against the explicit recommendations and warnings of a professional when far less harmful alternatives to accomplish her goals were available. She punished a totally innocent 15 year-old (Child 2) by telling her she was no longer welcome at the school because unspecified conduct by her father was so offensive that the BOT decided to remove her from the school. And Ms. English repeatedly defamed Mr. Josephson by falsely characterizing his conduct.
Ms. English did all this in violation of Archer policies of non-coercive discipline and its tradition of seeking alternatives in collaboration with parents to achieve the best possible outcome from the students’ perspective.
Our case for punitive damages will, we believe be solidified by ample and compelling evidence that this seemingly irrational behavior is the result of malice resulting from Ms. English’s deep-seated animosity stemming from a confrontation she precipitated in 2009 shortly after assuming her position at Archer. This incident is described in more detail in another post ( ).