Janitor with shoulder injury claims wrongful termination. $1.1M. San Diego County.


Stellar employee takes time off to treat for shoulder injury, suffers retaliation and termination.

The Case

  • Case Name: Maria Guerrero v. Able Engineering Inc.
  • Court and Case Number: San Diego Superior Court / 37-2017-00020532-CU-WT-CTL
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, April 03, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, June 07, 2017
  • Type of Action: Employment, Wrongful Termination
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Kenneth Medel
  • Plaintiffs:
    Maria Guerrero, 63.
  • Defendants:
    Able Engineering Inc.
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $1,107,855.60
  • Economic Damages:

    Past lost wages: $19,494

    Future lost wages: $38,361.60

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past noneconomic: $100,000

    Future noneconomic: $50,000

  • Punitive Damages:


  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 9 days.
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees is pending.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Gruenberg Law by Josh Pang, Pam Vallero and Josh Gruenberg, San Diego.


  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Ogletree Deakins by Frank Tobin and Jennifer Hendricks, San Diego.


The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Emily Churchill, M.D., internal medicine, San Diego. (Treating physician.)

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff worked as a janitor at 655 West Broadway in downtown San Diego  for 11 years. She developed a shoulder injury and began to take off time from work for doctor's appointments.  

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That despite accruing hundreds of hours of "sick time," defendant company suddenly began to retaliate against plaintiff with concocted write-ups, unwarranted suspensions without pay, bogus investigations and her ultimate termination. That plaintiff  indisputedly had been a stellar employee for the first 10 1/2 years of her employment. In the last half-year of her employment, plaintiff received four written warnings, including two suspensions, before being terminated.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendants maintained that the disciplinary actions were justified, and her termination was, in fact, a “layoff.”  Defendants also disputed that plaintiff suffered a disability.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $165,000 - two weeks prior to trial.
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $7,500 plus reasonable attorneys' fees.
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: $25,000 - two weeks prior to trial.


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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