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July 2015

Gordon & Rees New York and New Jersey Team Wins Dismissal of Employee’s $22 Million Discrimination Lawsuit

New York office managing partner and prominent trial lawyer Mercedes Colwin, senior counsel Sarir Silver, and associates Vincent Avery and Lauren Conston Wilke recently obtained a complete dismissal of a New Jersey employment discrimination lawsuit by a plaintiff who sought to recover in excess of $22 million in connection with her claim that her employer’s discriminatory conduct caused her to have a heart attack, rendering her permanently disabled and unable to work for the rest of her life.

The plaintiff was formerly employed by the defendant, a national retailer that specializes in arts and crafts merchandise, as a Custom Framing Manager. She alleged that over the period of three years, she was subjected to numerous instances of racial harassment, as well as a reduction in pay, change in benefits, and two demotions, all because of her race and/or in retaliation for her complaints regarding such harassment. Ultimately, plaintiff claimed that her work environment became so hostile, she was forced to resign and had a debilitating heart attack shortly thereafter.

As the discovery end date neared, Gordon & Rees filed back-to-back motions to dismiss plaintiff’s entire lawsuit for failure to provide discovery responsive to each of the 150+ document requests that had been served on plaintiff over the course of discovery. Notwithstanding plaintiff’s production of thousands of pages of documents in the course of discovery and hundreds more in response to defendants’ motions, the trial court ultimately agreed with the arguments advanced by Gordon & Rees and granted both motions in full, first dismissing plaintiff’s lawsuit without prejudice, and then with prejudice 60 days later. In doing so, the trial court held that, although plaintiff had cured virtually every discovery deficiency that Gordon & Rees had identified in response to the back-to-back motions, she had nevertheless failed to produce tax returns for three of the years in which she sought to recover back-pay, which justified a complete dismissal with prejudice of her lawsuit. On appeal, the Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s decision in full.

This victory is one of the latest for Ms. Colwin, a leading U.S. trial lawyer with 48 cases successfully tried to verdict. She is a legal analyst on the Fox News Network, where she regularly appears on legal issues involving high-profile matters. Ms. Colwin represents corporate executives and Fortune 500 clients who rely on her and her team of attorneys and experts to handle high-stakes legal matters. She is a frequent moderator, panelist and presenter on employment topics throughout the country.

Ms. Colwin has received numerous national recognitions, including Notre Dame Law School’s prestigious Graciela Olivarez Award, and she was named by Forbes Business American Airlines as one of the six most influential women in America, an honor she shares with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Ms. Colwin also was honored as one of the “Nation’s Most Powerful Employment Attorneys.”

Mercedes Colwin
Lauren Conston Wilke