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Tudor v. Charleston Area Med. Ctr., Inc.

Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia

October 7, 1997, Submitted ; December 16, 1997, Filed

No. 23948

Opinion

 [**559]  [*116]   Workman, Chief Justice:

This case is before the Court upon the appeal of Charleston Area Medical Center ("CAMC") and Janice Smith ("Appellant Smith")(collectively "Appellants") from the April 15, 1996, final order of the Circuit Court of Kanawha County denying the Appellants' motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, or, in the alternative, for a new trial, arising from a December 15, 1995, 1 jury trial wherein a verdict was returned in favor of the Appellee, Jana Lynn Tudor.  [**560]   [*117]  The jury awarded the Appellee $ 86,157 in special damages for lost wages, $ 500,000 in general damages for "damage to professional reputation, emotional distress and mental anguish," $ 1,000,000 in punitive damages against the Appellant CAMC, and $ 50,000 in punitive damages against the Appellant, Smith. The Appellants argue on appeal that the trial court erred: 1) in refusing [***10]  to grant the Appellants' motion for a directed verdict on the Appellee's claim for constructive retaliatory discharge; 2) in submitting the Appellee's claim for tortious interference with employment opportunities to the jury, said claim being unsupported as a matter of law; 3) in failing to grant defendants a directed verdict on the Appellee's libel and slander claims; 4) in permitting the jury to consider the Appellee's invasion of privacy claim, said claim being unsupported as a matter of law; 5) in admitting the de la Torre memorandum into evidence; 6) in admitting the videotape deposition of Betty Tiernan into evidence; and 7) in submitting the issue of punitive damages to the jury and in failing to grant the Appellants' remittitur on the emotional distress and punitive damages awards. Based upon our review of the parties' briefs, arguments, and all other matters submitted before this Court, we affirm the trial court's decision, with the exception of the trial court's denial of the Appellants' motion for remittitur, which we reverse.

 [***11]  I. FACTS

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203 W. Va. 111 *; 506 S.E.2d 554 **; 1997 W. Va. LEXIS 282 ***; 135 Lab. Cas. (CCH) P58,422

JANA LYNN TUDOR, Appellant v. CHARLESTON AREA MEDICAL CENTER, INC., A WEST VIRGINIA CORPORATION, AND JANICE SMITH, Appellee

Subsequent History:  [***1]  Opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part by Justice Maynard Filed December 21, 1997.

Prior History: Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kanawha County. Honorable Lyne Ranson, Judge. Civil Action No. 95-C-227.

Disposition: AFFIRMED, IN PART; REVERSED, IN PART; AND REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS.

CORE TERMS

punitive damages, trial court, public policy, damages, retaliatory discharge, intentional infliction of emotional distress, emotional distress, staffing, patient, physical trauma, Appellants', regulation, award of punitive damages, outrageous conduct, conditions, emotional, personnel, requests, nurses, absenteeism, warning, cases, double recovery, rehire, emotional distress damages, constructive discharge, award damages, circuit court, resignation, registered

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, General Overview, Jury Trials, Verdicts, General Verdicts, Torts, Commercial Interference, Employment Relationships, Trials, Judgment as Matter of Law, Labor & Employment Law, At Will Employment, Duration of Employment, Governments, State & Territorial Governments, Legislatures, Discrimination, Retaliation, Exceptions, Tort Exceptions, Public Policy Violations, Wrongful Termination, Constructive Discharge, Burdens of Proof, Public Policy, Local Governments, Ordinances & Regulations, Employers, Activities & Conditions, Courts, Judicial Precedent, Healthcare Law, Medical Treatment, Failures & Refusals to Treat, Actions Against Facilities, Standards of Care, Employment Issues, Whistleblower Protection Act, Business & Corporate Compliance, Contracts Law, Types of Contracts, Express Contracts, Negligence, Gross Negligence, Releases, Claims By & Against, Defenses, Exculpatory Clauses, Intentional & Reckless Acts, Interpretation, Settlements, Releases From Liability, Construction & Interpretation, Public Entity Liability, Liability, Pleading & Practice, Pleadings, Answers, Responses, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Affirmative Defenses, Reviewability of Lower Court Decisions, Preservation for Review, Privileges, Qualified Privileges, Province of Court & Jury, Abuse of Discretion, Evidence, Business Records, Relevance, Relevant Evidence, Admissibility, Conduct Evidence, Prior Acts, Crimes & Wrongs, Preservation of Relevant Evidence, Exclusion & Preservation by Prosecutors, Procedural Matters, Preliminary Questions, Jury Instructions, Limited Admissibility, Remedies, Damages, Punitive Damages, Types of Damages, Punitive Damages, Intentional Torts, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Remedies, Measurement of Damages, Judicial Review, Types of Negligence Actions, Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress, Compensatory Damages