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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.