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July 2011

Los Angeles Employment Group Prevails in Age Discrimination Trial

The Los Angeles Employment team of Steve Ronk, Anthony Bellone, Jennifer Ghozland and Sarah Super obtained a directed verdict following an 11 day jury trial before Judge David L. Minning in the Los Angeles Superior Court.

The Defendant, a large government contractor, had terminated Plaintiff's employment along with 18 other employees in a layoff resulting from the loss of a government contract.  Defendant had earlier secured summary adjudication prevailing on fraud and concealment claims relating to certain representations made to Plaintiff and a group of engineers brought over from another defense contractor.  The case then proceeded to trial on the remaining claims of age discrimination, both disparate treatment and disparate impact and wrongful termination.

Plaintiff, a highly compensated engineer, asserted that he was targeted for the layoff because of his age related compensation.  Plaintiff asserted he was one of the most highly compensated employees, and the oldest employee yet to vest under the retirement plan.  Plaintiff also alleged that he was prevented from transferring out of his department because of the high cost of his compensation package, and asserted age as a motivating factor for the layoff.

The parties had stipulated that should Plaintiff prove liability, his economic damage for lost earnings and benefits alone was $1,397,016.  Plaintiff further sought damages for emotional distress, punitive damages and attorneys' fees under the Fair Employment & Housing Act creating a total potential exposure in excess of $2,000,000.

After the close of the evidence, the defense filed a motion for directed verdict which was granted.  The jury was interviewed after the motion was granted and overwhelmingly indicated that they would have ruled in favor of the defense

Stephen E. Ronk