Appeals Court Says Judgment in Retaliation Suit Excessive

October 26, 2011 ( – According to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the United Parcel Service (UPS) likely retaliated against an injured worker when it blocked him from returning to work with lifting restrictions, reports Business Insurance. 

Despite the fact that the court found the worker was retaliated against, it found that a $2 million judgment against UPS was excessive, because the company’s actions only caused monetary harm to former employee Keith Jones.

Jones claimed that UPS violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when the company said a lifting restriction he had, which was caused by a 2003 shoulder injury, prevented him from working any job within the company, according to Business Insurance. A company-appointed doctor restricted Jones from lifting more than 20 pounds overhead after his injury. UPS carriers are routinely required to lift packages up to 70 pounds overhead.

The article states, two doctors who evaluated Jones in 2004 said he was later fit to lift 70 pounds. But they testified that discussions with a UPS occupational health manager prevented them from removing the lifting restrictions on Jones.

Jones was unable to return to work at UPS. He argued that UPS retaliated against him because he had filed a workers compensation claim for his shoulder injury.

The court of appeals, in a 2-1 ruling, said Jones retaliation claim was valid, because the occupational health manager “on multiple occasions, intentionally interfered with the doctors’ medical evaluations in an attempt to prevent Jones from returning to work.” The court also ruled that punitive damages were appropriate because of these actions.

The court however found the $2 million jury award Jones received was excessive because the manager “did not act with disregard for the health and safety of others,” and that her “conduct was not so reprehensible” to warrant such a large award.

A $630,300 jury award to Jones for actual damages in the UPS case was affirmed by the appeals court.

The case is Jones vs. United Parcel Service Inc.