Former Tesla Contractor Refuses $15 Million Settlement
Last October, in the matter of Diaz v. Tesla, Inc., 17-cv-06748 (U.S. District Court, Northern District of California), a jury awarded Owen Diaz $137 million for damages due to on-the-job racial harassment at a Tesla factory. While most federal anti-discrimination laws cap punitive damages at $300,000, Mr. Diaz pursued a § 1981 claim, which has no such limit. The jury awarded him $6.9 million for past and future emotional distress, and $130 million in punitive damages.
Earlier this year, Judge William Orrick of the Northern District of California reduced the verdict by nearly 90% to $15 million. The court also denied a motion by Tesla for a new trial, though the denial was conditioned on Mr. Diaz’s acceptance of the reduced $15 million award.
In late June, Mr. Diaz filed a formal response to the judge’s offer, rejecting the $15 million award, thus setting the stage for a new trial.