Former Tesla employee in racism case refuses jury award after judge cuts it from $137m to $15m

By Malathi Nayak | Bloomberg

A former Tesla Inc. contractor has refused to accept $15 million in damages for racist abuse he suffered at the Northern California electric vehicle maker’s factory after a judge ruled dramatically reduced a jury verdict of $137 million.

Owen Diaz told U.S. District Judge William Orrick on Tuesday that he would not accept the 89% reduction. Instead, Diaz plans to seek a new trial, his attorney Larry Organ said.

“In rejecting the excessive curtailment of the court by seeking a new trial, Mr. Diaz is again asking a jury of his peers to assess what Tesla did to him and provide just compensation for the torrent of racial slurs that were directed to him,” Organ said in an emailed statement. “Mr. Diaz seeks to restore a fair and just award of punitive damages that will punish and deter Tesla for the racist conduct to which Mr. Diaz was subjected and to prevent future harassment from occurring.

RELATED: Noose Drawing, Lynching Reference Left for Months at Tesla’s Fremont Plant, Civil Rights Claims

In October, Diaz won what is believed to be one of the most significant verdicts in US history for an individual plaintiff in a racial discrimination case, following a seven-day trial. in San Francisco.

Orrick had denied Tesla’s request for a new trial, 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 remove the massive jury award. The former elevator operator did not identify any “issues of law” that would warrant review, Orrick said in his ruling.

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

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