Tech on FAA contract fired after altercation with co-worker. $7.39 million
A technician working at an FAA site is fired after an altercation with a co-worker. Plaintiff says the co-worker started it.
- Case Name: Yang v. ActioNet
- Court and Case Number: United States District Court, Central District, California / 2:14-cv-00792-ABC (SH)
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, March 17, 2016
- Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, December 17, 2013
- Type of Action: Employment, Wrongful Termination
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Andre Birotte
- Plaintiffs: Yowan James Yang, 47
- Defendants: ActioNet, Inc.
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $7,393,540
- Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 75% ActioNet, 25% Yowan Yang, inapplicable due to plaintiff prevailing on three intentional tort causes of action: Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy, California Civil Code Section 52.1, California Civil Code Section 43.
- Economic Damages:
Past Lost Earnings: $193,540
Future Lost Earnings: $700,000
- Non-Economic Damages:
Past emotional and psychological harm: $950,000
Future emotional and psychological harm: $550,000
- Punitive Damages:
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 6 days.
- Jury Deliberation Time: First phase (liability and damages): 5 hours; second phase (punitive damages): 30 minutes
- Jury Polls: 8-0
- Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Plaintiff intends to file a Motion for Attorneys’ Fees based on Civil Code Sect. 52.1 and Labor Code Sect. 1102.5 and 2699 (g)(1).
- Attorney for the Plaintiff:
V. James DeSimone Law by V. James DeSimone, Marina del Rey.
Navab Law by Kaveh Navab, Marina del Rey.
Bohm Law Group by Ryann Hall, Marina del Rey.
- Attorney for the Defendant:
Littler Mendelson by Rebecca Aragon, Emily Patajo, and Jessica Kang, Los Angeles.
- Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Anthony Reading, Ph.D., psychology, Beverly Hills.
- Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
James Rosenberg, M.D., neuropsychiatry, Woodland Hills.
- Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
Jubin Merati, Ph.D., economics, Los Angeles.
- Defendant's Technical Expert(s):
David Fractor, Ph.D., economics, Pasadena.
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
In July of 2012, Defendant ActioNet, Inc. terminated Yowan James Yang’s employment. Yang was an information technology technician, a job in which he performed trouble-shooting computer assistance to the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”). ActioNet terminated him after an altercation with a coworker, Cy Tymony, in which Tymony allegedly threatened to kill Yang, choked him and destroyed his cubicle by punching its walls to the ground. FAA Special Agents came to the scene and prepared a preliminary report regarding the incident after speaking with witnesses.
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
Plaintiff contended that he was wrongfully terminated in violation of public policy since he was fired because of an incident in which he was the victim of workplace violence. Plaintiff contended that Tymony was acting in the course and scope of employment when he threatened and assaulted plaintiff and that ActioNet was liable based on vicarious liability. This liability included violations for Civil Code Sect. 43. (right of protection from bodily restraint or harm) and Civil Code Sect. 52.1 (interference with rights through threats, intimidation and coercion).
Plaintiff contended the FAA did not request that Yang be taken off the contract and the FAA investigative report exonerated Yang. Plaintiff further contended that ActioNet was negligent because other employees previously complained about Tymony’s aggressive behavior.
That ActioNet’s “for cause” termination of Yang prevented him from obtaining comparable employment and he was forced to accept a position as an In Home Support Service worker. The termination caused Yang great anxiety and depression.
- Defendant's Contentions:
Defendant ActioNet contended it was not liable because it fired plaintiff due to his role in provoking the altercation and for his conduct during the altercation.
Also that the FAA took plaintiff off the contract and they had no other place to employ him. Further, that it was not negligent and, if it was, then plaintiff was negligent as well. Further, that plaintiff did not mitigate his damages.
Injuries and Other Damages
- Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Yang was diagnosed with a Major Depressive Disorder.
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $193,539
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $837,359