Catholic-school teacher's contract not renewed after maternity leave. $3.6M. Los Angeles County.
Teacher says termination after pregnancy leave was retaliation; church says it was due to her performance.
- Case Name: Liggins v. Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Father Michael Tang, et al.
- Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC522726
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, November 01, 2018
- Date Action was Filed: Friday, September 27, 2013
- Type of Action: Employment, Whistleblower, Wrongful Termination
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. David S. Cunningham, III
- Plaintiffs: Kourtney Liggins, 41, science teacher.
- Defendants: Archdiocese of Los Angeles (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles)Father Michael Tang
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $3,662,806
- Award as to each Defendant:
$3,662,806 as to all defendants for compensatory damages.
$87,000 as to Father Tang for punitive damages.
- Economic Damages:
- Non-Economic Damages:
- Punitive Damages:
Father Michael Tang: $87,000
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 29 days.
- Jury Deliberation Time: 1 day for Phase I; 30 minutes for Phase II.
- Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Shegerian & Associates by Anthony Nguyen and Mark Lim, Santa Monica.
Urbanic & Associates by James Urbanic, Los Angeles.
- Attorney for the Defendant:
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart by Lara DeLeon and Nikki Fermin, Costa Mesa.
- Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Warren R. Procci, Ph.D., psychology, Pasadena.
- Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
- Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
Tamorah Hunt, MBA, Ph.D., economics, Santa Ana.
- Defendant's Technical Expert(s):
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
In June 2013 plaintiff was terminated from her position as a teacher at the Roman Catholic Transfiguration School in Los Angeles, when her contract was not renewed. She had been a teacher at the school for over four years.
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
Plaintiff, the single mother of six children, contended that she was targeted for being pregnant out of wedlock after she complained of alleged illegal conduct in the church. Plaintiff had complained to Human Resources representative Bill Heinen as well as Bishop William Clark that the church was conducting pregnancy discrimination/harassment and failing to accommodate her pregnancy; and that since complaining, that personnel from church were placing fabricated documents into her personnel file.
Further, as to Father Michael Tang, plaintiff claimed intentional infliction of emotional distress; that the pastor of the Roman Catholic church and school in Leimert Park discriminated against her for being pregnant out of wedlock before putting into a motion a series of false and illegal accusations that led to her termination.
Further, that any alleged performance deficiencies used to justify her termination were due to childcare-related issues as a result of her being forced to return to the job early from maternity leave, or were otherwise excusable yet used to target her for discrimination.
- Defendant's Contentions:
That they did not renew plaintiff's teaching contract based in part on complaints by parents about plaintiff's alleged tardiness and phone calls during class time, and other performance problems.
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $171,114
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $104,192
Demands and Offers
- Defendant §998 Offer: $50,000