Manufacturing plant supervisor suffers multiple injuries on the job, later fired. $15M. Los Angeles County.
Manufacturing plant supervisor takes a lot of time off due to on-the-job injuries; he's demoted, later fired. Company says he was soliciting bribes from vendors.
- Case Name: Astorga v. Snap-On Logistics
- Court and Case Number: : Los Angeles Superior Court / BC506474
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, August 30, 2017
- Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, March 19, 2013
- Type of Action: Defamation, Discrimination, ADA, Employment
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Victor E. Chavez
- Plaintiffs: Cesar Astorga, 50.
- Defendants: Snap-On Logistics
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $15,000,000
- Economic Damages:
- Non-Economic Damages:
- Punitive Damages:
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 3 weeks.
- Jury Deliberation Time: 1 1/2 days.
- Jury Polls: 11-1
- Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Motion for attorney fees and costs will be filed.
- Attorney for the Plaintiff:
- Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Girardi & Keese by Keith Griffin, Los Angeles.
Livingston Bakhtiar by Ebby Bakhtiar, Los Angeles.
- Attorney for the Defendant:
Latham & Watkins by Joe Farrell, Los Angeles.
- Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
- Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
- Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
Tamorah Hunt, economics, Santa Ana.
- Defendant's Technical Expert(s):
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
Plaintiff was a 15-year supervisory employee of defendant company, a manufacturer of power tools. He was hired in January of 1996. Plaintiff had work-related injuries which required multiple surgeries and leaves of absence. During his course of employment with defendant, plaintiff sustained injuries to both knees from falling off a scissor lift and later aggravated the injuries when a 100-pound motor fell on top of him. He has had 7 total knee surgeries (4 right-knee surgeries, 3 left-knee surgeries) to treat ongoing pain. From the beginning of 2002 through mid-2003, plaintiff was absent from work a total of 9 1/2 months. His next period of leaves of absence occurred from the beginning of April 2009 through February 2011, totaling 13 1/2 months.
At one point, defendant employer provided a golf cart for plaintiff's use to get around the 100,000+ square foot facility. Defendant changed their policy in the 2009-2011 timeframe and told the plaintiff they no longer allowed employees to return to work with doctor-imposed work restrictions.
He was demoted from his supervisor position during his most recent leave of absence, and fired on April 21, 2011. His medical bills paid by Snap-On exceeded $275,000.
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
The main causes of action were disability discrimination and defamation.
Plaintiff testified that his supervisor had told him that Snap-On did not want to pay him a full paycheck when he was only half a man. He informed his supervisor that he was going to need another surgery and a leave of absence in April of 2011. Two weeks later, he was fired for “cause” and told he was “found guilty.” He spent the next two-and-a-half years trying to find a job, having to list Snap-On as his most recent employer. He did not know it at the time, but Snap-On had conducted an “investigation” behind his back and terminated him for allegedly accepting money from contractors. Plaintiff denied this and there was never any independent evidence of the alleged bribery.
- Defendant's Contentions:
Snap-On contended that they fired Mr. Astorga for cause, i.e., allegedly accepting bribes from outside contractors to secure maintenance bids at the company facility.
Injuries and Other Damages
- Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Emotional distress and damage to reputation.