Home » Blog » What are Caps?

You may have heard of someone receiving a jury verdict in a discrimination case for a large sum; however, many times these verdicts are reduced because the recoveries are governed by laws that cap (limit) these sums at arbitrary amounts.  In cases involving discrimination based on sex, race, age, national origin, religion, and  disability, the amount of the judgment for emotional damages and punitive damages are capped based on the number of employees of the company.  The smallest companies are capped at $50,000 up to the largest (those over 500 employees) at $300,000.  So, if a jury were to award say, five million dollars to an individual for emotional and/or punitive damages, the judge would reduce the award in the judgment to $300,000 for a large company or down to $50,000 for the smallest companies.  The remainder of that verdict for those damages flies away like the classic cartoons showing dollar bills with wings flying away.  The caps do not affect the jury’s award for lost earnings and the plaintiff would get the full amount of the verdict awarded for earnings. Also, the caps do not affect attorney fees; however, these are usually controlled by the judge.  Also, sometimes the trial judge or appellate court may reduce the damages based on them being excessive or not supported by the evidence.  So, as you can see, things are not always as they appear, especially in the area of jury verdicts.