Legal news and tips for employees, by Law Office of Eugene Lee

I’m Baaaack (and with a Jury Verdict to report)

Sorry for the long hiatus, folks. But I do have an excuse: I was tied up doing a particularly grueling 3-week jury trial in federal court in Fresno, CA. I’m happy to say that the good guys won — a unanimous verdict on all counts: disability discrimination (mental disability) under the California Fair Employment & Housing Act (FEHA), failure to accommodate a disability, failure to engage in interactive process to find a reasonable accommodation, CFRA/FMLA medical leave interference, medical leave violation, medical leave retaliation, FEHA complaint retaliation, etc.

This is a case where the other side never once offered to settle. One of the lawyers on the defense team sneered at my client several times during trial too.

The jury awarded us $500,000+ in economic damages. Because there was also a unanimous jury finding of “willful” violation of FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) by the defendant, the addition of liquidated damages should take the recovery to over $1+ million. There’s also the award of substantial case-related costs and statutory attorney fees for the 3,500+ hours I worked on this case, which has yet to be decided.

There were a number of challenges in this case. First, I tried this case in the Eastern District of California, a venue that is well-known to have conservative and anti-plaintiff jurors. Second, the defendant was a county with an immense amount of resources, connections and, in my opinion, arrogance. They were contentious and unpleasant to deal with. Third, the court’s rulings markedly favored my opponents from start to finish. Months before trial, the magistrate judge for my case abruptly left the bench to become County Counsel for my opponent, the County of Kern. Fourth, discovery was massive, with over 30,000 pages produced in discovery and over 40 witnesses were deposed.

I was interviewed on TV evening news shortly after the verdict: “Doctor Wins $500,000 Judgment”.

Anyway, all’s well that ends well. I’m happy to be back and will be posting again. Thanks for your patience and sticking with me.


8 Responses to I’m Baaaack (and with a Jury Verdict to report)

  1. Well done. Only other lawyers know how many hours an attorney has to put into a case to try it. It is an immense amount of work. Great job hanging in there. Congratulations!

  2. Congratulations, Eugene! Thanks so much for standing up for the little guy. This gives the rest of us “little guys” who are fighting similar battles much hope and encouragement.

    Would you be willing to do a blog post on how to file California FEHA discrimination claims in federal court as well as the reasoning why? This is really fascinating to me.

    Once again, thanks and congratulations for a job well done!

    • Stevie,

      Thank you so much for the comment. So many employee lawsuits are a case of David v. Goliath — so this win is for all the “Davids” out there. Take heart!

      And that’s a great idea for a blog post and I will definitely put that one in the hopper. Federal court definitely comes with its set of challenges, but every now and then, it’s superior to State court.

  3. Congratulations on your victory, which I just read about on Carolyn Elefant’s My Shingle.

    You demonstrated that the right to trial by jury is usually a plaintiff’s only means to level the playing field.
    Keep up the good work.

    Jeff Mehalic

  4. Big Verdicts Require Big Salaries and Benefits…

    Half a million dollar verdicts are very rare in employment cases. As I have explained to many clients, the big dollar verdicts generally go to the clients with big lost income. CEO’s, doctors, etc. get the big verdicts because……

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Law Office of Eugene Lee
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