The Employment Services Group at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP (DWT), working with its client, Los Angeles Times Communications LLC, was successful in reversing a $7.1 million verdict in a high-stakes employment litigation matter.
Plaintiff T.J. Simers, 63, a former sportswriter at the L.A Times, resigned from the paper after being disciplined for not fully disclosing a conflict of interest. He later filed suit in state court, claiming he had been “constructively discharged” and that the paper had forced him out because of his age and health issues.
After a jury awarded Simers $2.1 million in economic damages and $5 million in noneconomic damages, the Times filed motions for a Judgment Notwithstanding The Verdict (JNOV) and a new trial. Last week, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge William A. MacLaughlin granted the motions in large part, agreeing that Simers’ constructive discharge claim—and resultant economic damages—were not supported by the evidence.
Judge MacLaughlin also granted the Times’ motion for a new trial on the constructive discharge claim in the event his decision is overruled. In doing so, the judge also agreed that the amount of noneconomic damages would need to be retried—without any reference to the constructive discharge.
As a result, Simers’ damages award has been reduced to zero.
JNOV motions are rarely granted, and the judge’s ruling is a reflection of the strong case put on by the Times during trial.
The case was tried by Emilio Gonzalez and Evelyn Wang of DWT and Linda Savitt from Ballard Rosenberg Golper & Savitt LLP. DWT lawyers Rochelle Wilcox, Scott Commerson, Kelli Sager, and Jason Harrow assisted the trial team with post-trial motions.