A former PNC Bank employee who was awarded $2.4 million after a trial involving sexual harassment claims is asking for a new trial on punitive damages claiming PNC Bank concealed evidence, according to the New Jersey Law Journal.
Former PNC Bank branch wealth manager Damara Scott claimed that in October 2013, customer Patrick Pignatello pressed his crotch into her buttocks and rubbed against her in the vestibule outside the bank’s entrance. She reported the incident to police who charged Pignatello with criminal sexual contact. Shortly thereafter, Pignatello died from an apparent heart attack.
Scott claimed that Pignatello visited the branch regularly and was known to grope and harass female employees and customers. At one point, management temporarily banned Pignatello from the branch but never closed his accounts. PNC claimed it wasn’t aware of the incidents.
On Feb. 10, a New Jersey jury found in favor of Scott and that PNC did not do enough to protect her. The jury awarded her $300,000 in past lost wages, $500,000 in future lost wages, $800,000 for past emotional distress and $800,000 in future emotional distress. PNC indicated it would appeal the verdict.
According to Scott’s motion, a day after the trial ended, her attorney examined photos of the bank, noticed security cameras, and demanded the video. A week later, the bank produced the video, which it previously claimed it didn’t have. The portion that involved the alleged groping incident was missing from the video. Scott’s attorney said that the video PNC concealed would refute the bank’s assertation that Scott wasn’t assaulted.
Further, an investigator for PNC said he took notes following the incident between Smith and Pignatello, but PNC’s attorney claimed there were no notes on file. However, on the day of closing arguments, PNC suddenly found the notes and claimed they had been misfiled.
The motion also cites PNC’s inability to provide Scott’s performance reviews, which were sought to show how Scott’s performance was affected by post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the incident.
Pignatello was criminally charged for the assault but died shortly thereafter. He was initially named in the suit, but Scott reached a confidential settlement with his estate.
Workplace sexual harassment has been the topic of national conversations since the #MeToo movement provided victims a platform to reclaim their voice and seek justice for the wrongs committed against them. If you think you have been a victim of workplace sexual harassment, it is important to seek the immediate advice of an employment lawyer. Contact Larry Golston, Lauren Miles or Leon Hampton, lawyers in our firm’s Consumer Fraud & Commercial Litigation Section to discuss a possible claim.