African American says his Caltrans co-workers racially harassed and discriminated against him. $1M. Los Angeles County.
Caltrans worker says he complained repeatedly but supervisors failed to act.
- Case Name: Scudder v. Caltrans
- Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court Case / BC590282
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, March 09, 2018
- Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, August 05, 2015
- Type of Action: Civil Rights, Discrimination, Racial, Employment
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Victor Chavez
- Plaintiffs: Tracy Scudder, 43, maintenance worker.
- Defendants: State of California, Department of Transportation (“Caltrans”)
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $1,000,000
- Award as to each Defendant:
The jury found for plaintiff on racial harassment and failure to prevent harassment. The jury determined no findings of racial discrimination or retaliation against Caltrans.
- Non-Economic Damages:
- Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Law Offices of Kyle Todd by Kyle Todd and Maximilian Lee, Los Angeles.
- Attorney for the Defendant:
Caltrans Legal Division by Deputy Attorneys Karen Park and Tucker Wisdom-Stack, Los Angeles.
- Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Bennett Williamson, Ph.D., psychology, Los Angeles.
- Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
Dylan Harwood, Ph.D., psychology, Los Angeles.
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
Caltrans maintenance worker Tracy Scudder began working for Caltrans in 2006 and claims that he was racially harassed. Still, Scudder continued being assigned to work with his alleged harassers until 2015, when Caltrans transferred him to a different work crew. Meanwhile, Scudder’s alleged harassers were promoted during the pendency of the case.
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
That soon after he began his employment his co-workers began belittling him for listening to “jungle music,” shouting orders in his face, and calling him “boy.” At one point there was a mock noose hung in front of him. In 2009, Caltrans wrote up one worker for using the N-word and for shoving Scudder, but no further discipline occurred, and Caltrans continued to assign Scudder to work alongside the same individuals. Throughout the years, Scudder says he complained to multiple supervisors, his union, and even took advantage of Caltrans’ internal Discrimination Complaint Investigation Unit.
- Defendant's Contentions:
Caltrans denied plaintiff's claims of harassment, discrimination and retaliation.
Demands and Offers
- Defendant §998 Offer: $400,000 shortly before trial.