A Seattle, Washington jury has awarded a verdict of $21.5 Million to a man injured by being hit in the head by an automatic sliding glass door while a passenger on Holland America Cruise Line. The verdict included a Punitive Damage award of $16.5 Million to punish the cruise line for what the jury found to be willful and outrageous conduct.
The purpose of a Punitive Damage Award in a civil lawsuit is to punish and deter the defendant for it’s outrageous conduct. The award is meant to change the behavior of the defendant through a financial penalty.
There were several factors that made the Punitive Damage Award so high in this case.
First, even though the video of the incident showed the man being hit by the door, the cruise line tried to argue that he walked into the door.
Second, there were several other lawsuits involving similar injuries in which the cruise line also attempted to blame the victims.
Third, there were over a dozen prior injuries caused by the automatic sliding doors.
Fourth, there was expert testimony from the door manufacturer that the door sensors were set improperly to open and close faster than normal which was presumably done to save on air conditioning costs.
It is believed that the large Punitive Damage Award was given because Holland America refused to accept responsibility and blamed the victim as well as put its desire for profits ahead of its passenger safety.
Click here to read more about the Verdict or see video of the incident.