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July 2018

San Francisco Employment Team Obtains More Than $1 Million Award on Behalf of Bay Area Medical Group

In February 2018, Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani San Francisco Partner Marcie Isom Fitzsimmons and Senior Counsel Hieu Williams prevailed in a four-week trial on behalf of their client, the Palo Alto Foundation Medical Group (“PAFMG”), a large group of physicians that provides medical services at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (“PAMF”), a Sutter Health affiliate. 

The plaintiff, a former PAFMG neurologist, claimed that PAFMG retaliated against her for allegedly complaining about practices and policies related to patient care, wrongfully terminated her, breached its employment contract with her, and interfered with her prospective economic advantage. 

The Santa Clara County Superior Court dismissed her retaliation and wrongful termination claims on non-suit. After several days of deliberation, the jury found only one provision of the employment contract was breached and awarded the plaintiff less than $29,000 in damages, which was a far cry from the more than $10 million she was seeking and much less than the 998 offer to compromise served at the inception of the case. 

Fitzsimmons and Williams filed a motion for attorney’s fees and costs on behalf of PAFMG pursuant to the fee-shifting provision in the contract. The plaintiff argued that the 998 offer was not valid and that she did not receive it and therefore the defendant was not entitled to its fees or costs. In July, however, the court ruled that the 998 offer was valid and properly served, PAFMG was the prevailing party, and awarded PAFMG $1,268,263 in fees and costs. In its order, the court noted that the “services rendered by the defendant’s counsel at trial were professional and effective” and “evidence superior preparation and organization.” The court went on to note that the “favorable outcome to the Defendant of the litigation suggests the effectiveness of services of Defendant’s counsel.”  The court also acknowledged that Fitzsimmons’ opening statement was “effective” and “delivered clearly and confidently.”   

To read the decision in full, please click here.

Marcie Isom Fitzsimmons