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June 2013

Gordon & Rees Los Angeles Team Wins Defense Verdict in Whistle-Blower Case

Gordon & Rees partner Stephen Ronk, senior counsel Michelle Steinhardt, and associate Erika Shao of the Los Angeles office won a defense verdict on June 14 after a one-week jury trial.

The plaintiff was a former supervisor for Gordon & Rees's client, a company that provides security services to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The plaintiff claimed to be a whistle-blower who was fired because he reported to his supervisors and to the MTA what he believed to be illegal billing on the MTA contract. He also alleged he was passed over for a promotion and was terminated because of his race and because he was from El Salvador. The plaintiff sought more than $350,000 in damages, as well as attorney fees.

Gordon & Rees's defense team demonstrated that despite his claims, the plaintiff did not make any complaints of illegal billing until after he was terminated for poor performance and a conflict of interest. Therefore, Gordon & Rees’s client could not have retaliated against the plaintiff for a complaint that he had not yet made. The defense also demonstrated that the complaint was unfounded and the client had done nothing wrong.

The race discrimination claim fell to a nonsuit granted by the trial court. The jury deliberated for less than 30 minutes before returning a verdict in favor of Gordon & Rees's client on the whistle-blower claims.

Stephen E. Ronk
Erika L. Shao