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California Jury Hands $155 Million Verdict to Fired Insurance Executive

As we recently reported, California juries proceed to award massive verdicts to staff with alarming regularity. And, simply in time for the vacations, a Los Angeles Superior Court docket jury upped the ante on Thursday, handing a fired insurance coverage firm government a verdict totaling $155.4 million – together with $150 million in punitive damages.Plaintiff Andrew Rudnicki labored for Farmers Insurance coverage Change as a senior government and lawyer in its Claims Litigation division. Farmers claimed it terminated Rudnicki’s employment after he made sexist and inappropriate remarks (e.g., utilizing phrases like “girlish determine” and “lesbian quota”); did not escalate issues raised by feminine staff about underrepresentation of girls in administration roles; and didn’t reply appropriately to considered one of his stories’ failure to stick to doc preservation protocols. For his half, Rudnicki claimed his termination was discriminatory primarily based on his age, gender, and incapacity, and in retaliation for his participation within the investigation and protection of a pay fairness class motion towards Farmers, which finally settled for over $4 million.

Whereas Farmers efficiently secured abstract adjudication on a variety of Rudnicki’s claims, a number of causes of motion remained for the jury to resolve. And, though they unanimously rejected Rudnicki’s discrimination allegations, the jury present in his favor on his retaliation allegations, awarding him $5.4 million in compensatory damages, together with $4.4 million for misplaced previous and future wages and $1 million for emotional misery (he testified that he skilled “shock, melancholy, and embarrassment” over the termination and that he “endured fitful sleep and a lack of urge for food for at the least three or 4 months”).

To not be outdone by the San Francisco jury that just lately awarded $130 million in punitive damages against Tesla to a short-term worker, the Los Angeles jury on this case assessed $150 million in punitive damages towards Farmers.

Quick math: That’s virtually a sixth of a billion {dollars} for the firing of one particular person!

Setting apart the probability that this unconstitutionally excessive punitive damages award shall be diminished by means of post-trial motions or on attraction, this verdict is simply one other instance of the very actual risks that await these employers who blithely belief their destiny to a California jury and additional proves what we have now preached repeatedly. There is just one means for California employers to insulate themselves from such catastrophes: Arbitration, arbitration, arbitration!

© 2021 Proskauer Rose LLP. Nationwide Regulation Assessment, Quantity XI, Quantity 351

 

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