Exotic Dancer Awarded $30,000 in Emotional Distress Damages Upon Defendants’ Default in Sexual Harassment Case

In Quintero v. Angels of the World, Inc., 19-CV-6126, 2021 WL 4464123 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 10, 2021), the court, inter alia, assessed emotional distress damages to be awarded to plaintiff (an exotic dancer), upon defendants’ default, on her claims of race-based discrimination and hostile work environment, hostile work environment sexual harassment, among others.

The court summarized the “black letter” law governing this category of damages:

“The Second Circuit sorts emotional distress claims into three categories of claims: garden-variety, significant or egregious. Garden variety emotional distress claims lacking extraordinary circumstances and without medical corroboration generally merit $5,000 to $35,000 awards. Significant emotional distress claims typically involve substantial harm that is often corroborated by witnesses or is evidenced by medical documents and damages for this type of claim range from $50,000 to $100,000. Finally, egregious emotional distress claims justifying awards exceeding $100,000 have only been warranted where the discriminatory conduct was outrageous and shocking or where the physical health of plaintiff was significantly affected.

When awarding compensatory damages, important factors in assessing an appropriate amount to award for emotional suffering include the amount, duration, and consequences of the claimant’s emotional distress.

[Cleaned up.]

Applying the law, the court explained the basis for its decision to award plaintiff $30,000:

Plaintiff avers that defendants’ conduct caused substantial emotional distress, including intense stress and anxiety, as well as significant physical manifestations including insomnia and weight loss of approximately 30 pounds. While plaintiff’s allegations of emotional distress are significant, she has not supported those claims with any medical or mental health records nor alleged that she treated with any medical provider. Moreover, plaintiff’s affidavit does not address the duration of her emotional distress. In the absence of any corroborating evidence regarding plaintiff’s mental health injuries that would support a more significant award of damages for emotional distress, the Court finds that an award of $30,000 is reasonable to compensate plaintiff for her emotional distress claim and is consistent with awards to plaintiffs who suffered similar injuries.

The court cited a number of cases, apparently involving comparable facts, to justify this award.

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