On Friday, October 22, a federal jury in Sacramento returned a punitive damages award of over $10,000,000 in a case brought by Wilke Fleury on behalf of plaintiffs Brian Dawe, Gary Harkins, and Flat Iron Mountain Associates. That award was in addition to the same jury’s October 18 award of $2.58 million in compensatory damages.
Represented by Wilke Fleury partner Dan Baxter, the plaintiffs sued the California Correctional Peace Officers’ Association, Corrections USA, and two individual defendants for breach of contract and defamation—among other claims—stemming from a campaign of misconduct perpetrated by the defendants in 2006 and 2007. After a three-month trial, the jury found in favor of Dawe, Harkins, and Flat Iron on their claims, as well as on an assortment of counterclaims made by Corrections USA. Of the total damages awarded to plaintiffs, over $12 million was against CCPOA, the largest correctional officers’ union in the country and a powerful force in California politics.