Attorneys Explain $350K, Plus $2 Award Favoring Upstate NY Veteran
Last month, a jury awarded an Upstate NY veteran $350,002 in a judgement against New York State after it determined he had been discriminated against in the workplace. Where did the $2 dollars come from? The attorneys who represented the Madison County man are now speaking out about the importance of the case.
A jury decided in August, that Joseph Hubbard of Canastota was not promoted at the New York State Psychiatric Center in Marcy, NY because of a perceived disability, and that management retaliated against him after he challenged their decision in court. Simply put, the jury determined the Marcy Psych Center deemed the veteran unfit for the promotion because he had suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), according to the decision.
Attorneys Norman Deep and AJ Bosman represented Hubbard in NYS Supreme Court in Utica in the complaint that dated back to 2008, which they say should be an important case for any person who feels their constitutional rights have been violated. The two attorneys appeared on WIBX's First News with Keeler in the Morning on Wednesday.
Bozeman said that Hubbard had a case of discrimination on the basis of disability, and then of retaliation. "Our client had super evaluations, completely, not one negative thing. But they kept passing him over," said Bosman.
The attorneys say, Hubbard was a master Sgt. in the military who was responsible for potentially hundreds or thousands of service members, "but when they come home, we say they're not qualified," she said. Furthermore, Bosman added that he served at the World Trade Center during 911, he fought in Grenada, he fought in Iraq. "He achieved incredible accommodations for his service, and to not recognize the value of that in the work place, is just a shame," she added.
"The perception that veterans who have PTSD are somehow unreliable or they're going to snap, is a common beiielf and that prevents them from achieving goals that they would otherwise be entitled to," said Bosman. "One of the individuals at the psych center, said Hubbard needed to be set aside for promotion because "he's suing us," Bosman recalled from testimony. "The very act of saying we're not going to consider him because he's suing us, is in itself a constitutional violation," she said. The jury agreed and found in favor of Hubbard in both cases. He was awarded $350,002 as part of the judgement. The State says it will appeal the case.
Why $350,000 Plus $2?
In constitutional violation cases, only $1 per violation can be awarded. Then, the damaged party has the opportunity to sue for damages if they exist. Deep said that this can often times steer people away from suing because the attorneys they speak to don't fully understand the law. Deep says this is a mistake that has cost damaged parties millions of dollars, just in Oneida County alone.
"When there is a constitutional violation, freedom of speech, or whatever it may be, you can only get $1 for the violation itself. Then there's the 2nd phase which are the damages as a result of the violation," said Deep. "The sad part about it is people are not getting good advice from some attorneys when they talk about constitutional violations, they say that's only worth a dollar. That's not the case. Get second opinions when dealing with constitutional law. Because people have lost millions of dollars because attorneys told them they didn't have a case," when they actually did.
In the case of Hubbard, the jury determined his constitutional rights were violated by two people at the Marcy Psych Center. He was awarded one dollar for each of those violations. The second phase was the suit for damages, where he was awarded a total of $350,000 for both violations.
Listen to the interview with Deep and Bosman.