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Tucoemas FCU must pay punitive damages
WASHINGTON (4/22/08)—Tucoemas FCU, of Visalia, Calif., must pay punitive damages equaling more than $1.5 million to a former executive who claimed she was pushed out of her job after being diagnosed with cancer and undergoing its incumbent treatments. The U.S. Supreme Court this week decline to hear an appeal of a lower court’s damages award, thereby exhausting the credit union’s options to challenge the award granted to Kim McGee, a former Tucoemas vice president. Tucoemas FCU had argued that under federal case law, a federal credit union is defined as a”federal instrumentality” and is therefore exempt from paying punitive damages in civil cases. The California's 5th District Court of Appeal had ruled that the”federal instrumentality designation” only covers a federal credit union in tax and bankruptcy matters and is not relevant to other areas of law. The Supreme Court's decision to not hear the case means that the California Court of Appeal's decision stands. It has been reported that the punitive damages will be paid in addition to about $1.8 million in compensatory damages, including lawyers' fees and lost wages. McGee's appeal-related expenses alone were about $600,000.


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