The Catholic Church in Sacramento has agreed to pay $4 million to settle a former high school football coach’s wrongful termination lawsuit.
This was a tragic case involving a high school football coach who was fired for doing the right thing.
The coach was a retired police officer, who decided to coach the football for the local Catholic High School. When he arrived, he soon heard tales of some very inappropriate hazing rituals involving the players. When he reported the conduct, the school blamed him for letting it happen and fired him on that basis.
Here is where things get interesting. He sued for wrongful termination, and a Sacramento jury awarded him $900,000 in compensatory damages, even though he had found a better job that paid more.
But then came the punitive damages phase of the trial. Before the case was put to the jury to decide on punitive damages, the Catholic church agreed to settle for the original $900,000 plus $4 million in punitive damages. No doubt the Catholic church wanted to cut its losses and avoid the possibility of a much larger punitive damages award. However, based on the comments of the jurors, it appears any punitive damages would have been far less.