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Davey v. Lockheed Martin Corp.

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Brief Fact Summary.

Davey sued her former employer for gender discrimination and retaliating against her for complaining about the discrimination in federal district court. She obtained a jury verdict that included a punitive damage award. The employer appealed the verdict on the retaliation claim, contending that the district court improperly denied it the opportunity to present a material aspect of its case to the jury, which led to the award of punitive damages.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

On a challenge to a district court’s decision to deny a motion to amend a pretrial order, and resulting exclusion of an issue, the court considers:

  • prejudice or surprise to the opposing party, timeliness of the request for amendment
  • the ability to cure any prejudice
  • disruption (by inclusion of the new issue)
  • bad faith of the party seeking the amendment

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

The Tenth Circuit has not yet decided whether the so-called Kolstad or good faith defense is an affirmative defense on which the defendant bears the burden of proof or whether plaintiff must disprove defendant's good faith compliance with Title VII.

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Facts.

Davey sued her former employer, asserting claims for gender discrimination and retaliation against her for complaining about the discrimination. She obtained a jury verdict on one of her retaliation claims and was awarded, in accordance with the jury’s verdict, compensatory and punitive damages, back pay and front pay, attorney’s fees, and interest. The employer appealed the verdict on the retaliation claim, contending that the district court improperly denied it the opportunity to amend the pretrial order to allow it to present a defense — good faith compliance with Title VII — to the jury, which led to the award of punitive damages.

Issue.

Did the district court err in denying the employer’s request to amend the pretrial order to allow it an opportunity to present a defense (good faith compliance with Title VII) to the jury?

Held.

Yes. The district court abused its discretion in denying the employer’s request to amend the pretrial order to allow it the opportunity to present a  defense (good faith compliance with Title VII) to the jury.

Discussion.

In this case, except for the timeliness of the employer’s motion, all of the factors considered in deciding a challenge to a court’s decision on a motion to amend a pretrial order (prejudice or surprise to the opposing party, timeliness of the request for amendment; ability to cure any prejudice; disruption; bad faith of the party seeking the amendment), weighed in favor of allowing amendment to the pretrial order.


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