On the Friday before Christmas, Gordon & Rees partners Mark S. Posard and Michael A. Laurenson of San Francisco received an early present in the form of a nearly unanimous defense verdict for their client, trucking company Dependable Highway Express (DHE), in a whistleblower termination and discrimination case in which the plaintiff had sought $1.8 million in damages.
The plaintiff, the former director of fleet maintenance, alleged that he had been fired for complaining that one of the company’s co-owners was skimming money from cash sales of used equipment, and because of his heart condition. Posard and Laurenson put on evidence that the termination was based on the plaintiff’s mismanagement of his division resulting in ballooning maintenance costs to the company.
One of the highlights of the trial in Delucchi v. DHE was the testimony of the plaintiff’s former subordinate, a gruff mechanic and Army veteran nicknamed “Sarge.” When Sarge was asked on cross-examination if things had improved since the plaintiff’s termination, he paused, began to choke up, looked directly at the plaintiff and said, “I’m sorry Dave, but I’ve got to tell the truth. Yes, things have gotten better.”
After a two-week trial, a Sacramento Superior Court jury deliberated for just over an hour before returning a verdict of 12-0 on three of the claims and 11-1 on the fourth, all in favor of DHE. Gordon & Rees associate Rebecca R.W. Monroe and paralegal Melissa A. Diaz also were instrumental in securing partial summary adjudication and preparing the case for trial.