"Punitive damages are usually reserved for when the defendant has displayed actual intent to cause harm (such as purposefully rear-ending someone else’s car), rather than in cases of mere negligence…
Punitive damages are a focal point of the tort reform debate in the United States, where numerous highly publicized multi-million dollar verdicts have led to a fairly common perception that punitive damage awards tend to be excessive. However, statistical studies by law professors and the Department of Justice have found that punitive damages are only awarded in two percent of civil cases which go to trial, and that the median punitive damage award is between $38,000 and $50,000.
There is no maximum dollar amount of punitive damages that a defendant can be ordered to pay. In response to judges and juries which award high punitive damages verdicts, the Supreme Court of the United States has made several decisions which limit awards of punitive damages through the due process of law clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. In a number of cases, the Court has indicated that a 4:1 ratio between punitive and compensatory damages is high enough to lead to a finding of constitutional impropriety, and that any ratio of 10:1 or higher is almost certainly unconstitutional."
"At common law, damages are categorized into compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are further categorized into special damages, which are economic losses such as loss of earnings, property damage and medical expenses, and general damages, which are noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Compensatory damages, called actual damages, are paid to compensate the claimant for loss, injury, or harm suffered as a result of (see requirement of causation) another’s breach of duty. (e.g., in a negligence claim under tort law).
Punitive damages are awarded only in special cases where conduct was egregiously invidious and are over and above the amount of compensatory damages, such as in the event of malice or intent. Great judicial restraint is expected to be exercised in their application. In the United States punitive damages awards are subject to the limitations imposed by the due process of law clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
A source with close knowledge of the case in question agreed to speak "off the cuff" under the stipulations that neither his name nor the names of any/all attorneys involved be disclosed:
"Unfortunately, the law often provides loopholes through which legal mistakes can be made, [or] we wouldn’t be here at all… An award of one dollar [$1.00] for compensatory damages and $900,000.00 for punitive damages is a clear indication of a muddled, disordered jury which is unfamiliar with the law. Obviously, the punitive award should and will be appealed. The judge has also stated during trial that he will recommend the plaintiff be scrutinized by the federal District Attorney… for fraud."
[Emphasis ours; all.]
UPDATE: A statement from attorney Daniel Kaiser confirms: "Adam Wiercinski aka Adam Jamroz was awarded $1.00 dollar [ONE DOLLAR] in compensatory damages; the $900K punitive award is unsustainable. We can and will seek to vacate the jury verdict. Wiercinski/Jamroz, the plaintiff in a civil case, invoked the Fifth Amendment several times during cross-examination in an attempt to prevent the incrimination of himself…
[To "plead the Fifth" is to refuse to answer any question because "the implications of the question, in the setting in which it is asked" lead a claimant to possess a "reasonable cause to apprehend danger from a direct answer", believing that "a responsive answer to the question or an explanation of why it cannot be answered might be dangerous because injurious disclosure could result. – Wikipedia]
… The act of a PLAINTIFF, under oath, refusing to answer questions in a CIVIL suit in order to protect himself from criminal charges was so egregious that Judge Leo Glasser recommended during trial that Wiercinski’s prior testimony be investigated by the Federal District Attorney’s office.
Mangia presented five witnesses [several of whom are Jewish themselves and/or were employed by Mangia at the time], to refute the charges. Contemporaneous and current Mangia employee Robert Ranfranz testified under oath that Wiercinski had approached him and offered him monetary compensation to falsify his testimony. The $1.00 compensatory award reflects Wiercinski’s lack of credibility. The $900K punitive award for the ‘corroborating testimony’ of Wiercinski’s three witnesses is nominal and cannot be sustained under the Constitution.”
ADAM WIERCINSKI COMMITS PERJURY AGAINST MANGIA 57, MANGIA 48, MANGIA NYC – FILES FALLACIOUS LAWSUIT