Pavon v. Swift Transportation Co., Inc. Case Brief

Summary of Pavon v. Swift Transportation Co., Inc., U.S. Ct./Appeals, 9th Circuit (1999)

Cause of action: The following is a cause of action for reversal of verdict in favor of PL.

Procedural History: PL settled out of court originally for lost wages, but sued again Disctrict Court (summary judgment motion by DF denied there). PL then went on to sue in Federal District Ct. pursuant to title VII of the Civil Rights Act (to correct unlawful employment practices on the basis of race), where he won an additional $250K in non-economic damages, as well as $300K in punitive damages. DF’s motion for new trial denied, and they appeal.

Facts: PL is a Honduran-American citizen who was constantly berated and teased about his hispanic descent by a co-worker, despite several attempts to go to his boss and supervisors. When he was switched out to a menial job for his experience and expertise, PL was terminated, following a reminder MLK, Jr. was assassinated for his wanting to stop racial sentiments and slurs.

Issue(s): Under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, may a fired employee who has already settled his lost wages claim out of court, be permitted to seek punitive and non-economic damages over the same action which incited the law suits to begin with?

Court’s Rationale/Reasoning: Based on the rule the court followed, there was plenty of time, space, motivation and convenience involved in the second suit. The first suit, in a State court, was to recover lost wages. This decision comes down from a court which heard a complaint for non-economic and punitive damages as a result of, but not because of, the firing. The suit could stand on its own in short for the damages.

Rule: The following criteria are relevant to the transaction inquiry: time, space, origin of the harm, subjective or objective motivation, convenience and similar acts.

Holding: Yes. The court found nothing similar, other than the acts which precluded the firing by DF of PL, and as such, there is no cause to preclude PL from seeking damages other than from lost wages.

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