Wrongful termination of long-time employee results in punitives. $8.5 million. Los Angeles County.

Summary

New supervisor terminates 23-year employee at aerospace facility. She says defendant replaced her with a younger male who she trained.

The Case

  • Case Name: Blanca Torres v. B.E. Aerospace Inc.
  • Court and Case Number: : Los Angeles Superior Court / BC513171
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, June 02, 2016
  • Date Action was Filed: Monday, June 24, 2013
  • Type of Action: Employment, Wrongful Termination
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Mel Red Recana
  • Plaintiffs:
    Blanca Torres, 55, female, quality assurance supervisor.
  • Defendants:
    B.E. Aerospace Inc.
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $8,516,000
  • Economic Damages:

    $75,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    $1,441,000

     

  • Punitive Damages:

    $7,000,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 15 days.
  • Jury Polls: 11-2 first phase, 9-3 punitives.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Law Offices of Maryann P. Gallagher by Maryann P. Gallagher, Los Angeles.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    The Zappia Law Firm by Edward Zappia and Herbert Hayden, Los Angeles.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Russell Suede, economics – punitive damages, Calabasas.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    David Weiner, economics – punitive damages.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff was employed by Delco Machine and Gear, Inc. from 1989 through 2001, when Delco was purchased by defendant B.E. Aerospace Inc.  She was the Quality Assurance Supervisor at B.E. Aerospace in their Westminster facility for 11 years. In 2011 a new manager began working at the facility and supervising plaintiff. In 2012 plaintiff was terminated from her position.

     

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That defendant B.E. Aerospace terminated plaintiff without warning, claiming they had eliminated her position.

    That defendants did not eliminate her position and that they in fact replaced her with a 25-year-old male, who she had trained when he started at B.E. Aerospace.

    Plaintiff claimed defendants were motivated by age and gender discrimination.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant B.E. Aerospace, Inc. presented evidence at trial that they eliminated plaintiff's position by dividing her responsibilities between three different employees. They contended that they did not fill her position with a replacement hire. During trial, defendants also put on evidence that plaintiff was insubordinate, resistant to the changes that were instituted by her new Quality Assurance Manager, and refused to perform her duties.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Emotional Distress, loss of her career of 23 years, anxiety.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $75,000

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $1,250,000
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: $90,000 – withdrawn on the first day of trial.

Additional Notes

Plaintiff was able to find work after 3 months and was still working at the time of the trial. Defendants claimed plaintiff failed to mitigate her damages.

Per defendant's appellate counsel: B.E. Aerospace believes that the jury verdict is improper and it has numerous grounds that it plans to raise post-trial, where it will move for a judgment nothwithstanding the verdict and a new trial. If B.E. Aerospace's post-trial motions are unsuccessful, it will appeal.
 
Defendant has retained Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP to represent the company in post-trial matters and in any appeal. Ted Boutrous, Jr., will be lead counsel in these matters.

 

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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