The State Worker
Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers
March 23, 2011

A federal judge has reduced a $10 million punitive damages award leveled against the California Correctional Peace Officers Association last year, although the plaintiffs in the case can appeal the reduction or seek a new trial that focuses on what the award should be.

Sacramento Federal Court Judge Lawrence Karlton rendered the decision last week, cutting what was a total $12.5 million decision against CCPOA — compensatory and punitive damages awards combined — to about $5 million.

The decision is the latest turn in Dawe v. Corrections USA, CCPOA, et al. Last October a jury unanimously found that CCPOA had spread falsehoods about Brian Dawe, a founder and former executive director/treasurer of Auburn-based Corrections USA.

CUSA is a national law enforcement coalition, and CCPOA is a member. The union eventually took over the organization’s board then ousted Dawe five years ago after he raised questions about the coalition’s finances.

Dawe successfully argued that the unjust firing and remarks by CCPOA officials and publications issued to explain his departure hampered his ability to earn a living and damaged his company, Flat Iron Mountain Associates. The jury awarded Dawe and his $2 millionin compensation. Another former Corrections USA employee involved in the matter, Gary Harkins, won a $315,000 defamation compensation claim against the union.

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