Ex-Tesla worker turns down jury prize in racism case after reducing it from $137 million to $15 million

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by Malti Nayak | Bloomberg

A former Tesla Inc. contractor has refused to accept $15 million in damages caused by racial abuse at the electric vehicle maker’s Northern California factory after a judge overturned a $137 million jury decision dollars sharply cut.

Owen Diaz told US District Judge William Orrick on Tuesday that he would not agree to an 89% cut. Instead, Diaz plans to seek a new trial, his attorney Larry Organ said.

“Mr. Diaz dismisses the court’s extreme failings by calling for a new trial, and again asks a jury of his peers to evaluate what Tesla did to him and the barrage of racial slurs directed at him.” To a fair one to pay compensation,” Organ said in an emailed statement. “Mr. Diaz is committed to restoring fair and equitable punitive damages that will punish and deter Tesla for the racist conduct for which Mr. Diaz was bullied and to deter future harassment.”

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In October, Diaz followed a seven-day trial in San Francisco in what is believed to be one of the largest single plaintiff racial discrimination judgments in US history.

Orrick turned down Tesla’s request for a new test on the condition that Diaz accept the reduced price.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Orrick ruled on June 7 that Diaz could not appeal his April decision to cut the jury’s massive award. Orrick said in his ruling that the former lift operator failed to raise “legal issues” that would warrant a review.

The case is Diaz v. Tesla Inc., 17-CV-06748, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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