Contractor Can't Get New Fraud Trial After $3.65M Verdict

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Decus is represented by Kathryn Pettit of Offit Kurman

Law360 (April 3, 2018, 2:34 PM EDT) -- A New Jersey contractor who was hit with a $3.65 million jury verdict after being accused of misrepresenting his employment history to a Pennsylvania contractor and then siphoning business away to his own firm is not entitled to a new trial, a Pennsylvania federal judge ruled Monday.

U.S. District Judge Mark Kearney said he had properly allowed evidence that showed defendant Mark Heenan had been fired from a previous job at another construction firm after his boss discovered he had hidden a baby monitor in the bathroom. But the judge did chop $414,000 in punitive damages stemming directly from the concealment of the monitor incident, finding the jury’s figure dramatically outweighed the actual economic losses suffered by plaintiff Decus Construction. While we can find the nondisclosure is reprehensible and agree as to its materiality, we cannot reconcile a 12.5:1 ratio for punitive damages for fraud,” the judge said in the opinion.

The judge’s ruling reduced Decus’ winnings to $3.24 million.

Decus Construction Inc. and Decus Inc. jointly sued Heenan and his business Heenan Holdings LLC in November 2016, alleging that Heenan misrepresented his employment history before being hired as a consultant in 2015. The Decus entities alleged that Heenan then attempted to divert business opportunities away to Heenan Holdings.

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Kathryn E. Pettit, an associate in the firm’s suburban Philadelphia office, focuses her practice on construction law. Before becoming an attorney, Ms. Pettit received her Bachelors of Science in Civil Engineering from Syracuse University. She brings her technical background and perspective to the representation of her clients.


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