Children's Hospital of Los Angeles and USC breach employment contract. $1.7M. Los Angeles County.

Summary

Plaintiff scientist claims he was promised forgiveness of a $200,000 housing loan, which defendants reneged on.

The Case

  • Case Name: Richard Simerly v. Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, et al.
  • Court and Case Number: Superior Court of Los Angeles / BC667382
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Saturday, October 23, 2021
  • Date of Arbitration Award : Saturday, October 23, 2021
  • Date Action was Filed: Monday, July 03, 2017
  • Type of Action: Breach of Contract, Employment
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Michael A. Latin (Ret.)
  • Plaintiffs:
    Richard B. Simerly, Ph.D.
  • Defendants:
    Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles
    University of Southern California
  • Type of Result: Arbitration Award

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $352,106
  • Net Verdict or Award: $1,783,771.93
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    Against CHLA and USC, jointly and severally, on counts for (1) conversion, (2) breach of oral contract, (3) promissory estoppel, and (4) statutory wage act violation.

    Judge Latin further held that USC’s and CHLA’s conduct in concealing documents and critical information from Dr. Simerly for years supported statutory waiting time penalties. The total amount of the recovery to Dr. Simerly was $352,106, which included the $200,000 forgivable loan, which the arbitrator found was a wage, pre-judgment interest, and costs. In addition, Judge Latin further held that, because the award included a recovery under the wage act, Dr. Simerly was entitled to attorney’s fees in the amount of $1,431,755.50, which represented the full requested lodestar, together with a 1.5 multiplier.

  • Economic Damages:

    $200,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 5 days
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Motion for attorneys fees.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Elliott & Associates by James F. Elliott, Los Angeles.

    Law Office of David Pourati, APC by David Pourati, Beverly Hills.

    Donald Brosnan, Santa Rosa.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Ballard Rosenberg Golper & Savitt LLP by Linda Savitt and Eric Schwettmann, Encino. (For respondent Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.)

    Carlson & Jayakumar by Jehan Jayakumar, Keith Carlson, Andrew E. Saxon, Ryan Kennedy and Nima Jalali, Newport Beach. (For respondent USC.)

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff/claimant, Richard Simerly, Ph.D., a neurobiologist, was jointly employed by Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (“CHLA”) and University of Southern California (“USC”). Dr. Simerly was orally promised an interest-free $200,000 forgivable loan in the form of a housing subsidy toward the down payment of a home upon relocation to California. The loan was to be forgiven after ten years of employment.

    Dr. Simerly performed by working for ten years but defendants did not forgive the loan. The case was initially filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court (“LASC”) against CHLA. During the litigation in LASC, plaintiff uncovered facts establishing USC’s liability, so plaintiff named USC a respondent in an arbitration pursuant to a mandatory arbitration agreement. The parties stipulated to consolidate proceedings in arbitration.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That plaintiff was orally promised an interest-free $200,000 forgivable loan in the form of a housing subsidy toward the down payment of a home upon relocation to California.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendants/Respondents contended that there was no breach of contract and no promise of a forgivable loan. They also contested that any such loan forgiveness  would constitute a wage.

Additional Notes

The arbitrator observed at the final hearing on the award and attorney’s fee application that: “[T]he lengths to which Claimant's counsel went in this case were heroic. I don't know how else to put it. It was a level of relentlessness in pursuing a claim that I rarely see, and it was the kind of case that required exactly that.”

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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