Reservist Wins Right to Sue for Punitive Damages

A Pennsylvania state court has granted Arnold Hamovitz, an Air Force Reservist from the Pittsburgh area, the right to sue former employers for punitive damages under a state tort claim for wrongful discharge. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Hamovitz came back from a four-month overseas deployment in 2005 to find someone else performing his civilian job as an airfield manager. His employers refused his request for reinstatement. Under the federal Uniform Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, Hamovitz may sue for reinstatement and recovery of lost pay and benefits, but not for punitive damages or compensatory damages for emotional distress, embarrassment, or humiliation. Because of this, a judge ruled that Hamovitz is entitled to seek those additional tort damages under Pennsylvania common law, according to the newspaper.