By Patrick Schach
In the past decade, jury verdicts in employment cases have continued to grow across the country. Kentucky is no different. The ten largest non-Fair Labor Standards Act employment verdicts in Kentucky from 2000-2009 as reported in The Kentucky Trial Court Review Series, editions 3-12 are:
- $4,352,316: Hill and Hill v. Kentucky Lottery (Jefferson, 2003): Husband and wife employees received separate verdicts for $2,654,450 and $1,697,866 because of Defendant’s retaliation against them for helping a third employee’s discrimination claim.
- $4,222,966: Jefferson v. Jefferson County Public Schools (Jefferson, 2004): Elementary school teacher was accused of misconduct by her aide. Jury found that school officials acted with malice when coercing plaintiff’s retirement. Defendant’s tort was a denial of due process to plaintiff teacher.
- $3,500,000: Cobb v. Fayette County Board of Education et al (Fayette, 2005): A middle school principal prevails on a whistleblower claim after reporting improprieties at her school. The verdict included $1,000,000 in punitive damages against two individual school board officials.
- $2,890,532: Riles et al v. Kentucky Lottery (Jefferson, 2004): Separate plaintiffs recovered $1,570,805 and $1,319,805 for different acts of racial discrimination. After the first plaintiff quit her job because of the harassing work atmosphere, the second plaintiff was promoted and subsequently fired in a ruse to cover up the discrimination against the first plaintiff.
- $2,000,002: Anderson & Vinson v. Dept. of Agriculture (Franklin, 2001): In this whistleblower suit, Plaintiff supervisors succeeded after being retaliated against for reporting mismanagement in inspections.
- $1,768,584: Buckley v. Country Oven (Warren, 2002): Employee at industrial bakery alleged employer required her to become a “snitch” as a condition of further employment. When employee suffered physical and emotional injuries from this requirement, Defendant employer did not accommodate her disabilities. Punitive damages of $1,250,000 were included in the verdict.
- $1,461,744: Breit and Walker v. Rawlings & Associates et al (Jefferson, 2002): Two associate attorneys recovered individual verdicts of $824,593 and $637,151 against their employer for failure to pay finder’s fees pursuant to an oral contract. The verdict includes $885,283 of punitive damages.
- $1,281,363: West v. Tyson Foods (Federal Court Owensboro, 2008): Plaintiff employee prevailed in sexual harassment claim based on co-workers’ harassment and supervisor’s failure to take corrective action, instead telling plaintiff that the complained of behavior was simply “how Mexicans treat their women.” The verdict included $400,000 of punitive damages.
- $1,150,000: Younis v. Dept. of Homeland Security (Jefferson, 2006): Plaintiff TSA employee alleged sex discrimination based on inequities in pay between her and a male co-worker. Plaintiff also alleged retaliation for raising the discrimination issue. Jury sided with Defendant on discrimination issue but awarded plaintiff over one million dollars on the retaliation claim alone.
- $1,086,750: Clark v. KACo (Franklin, 2008): Employee retaliated against by employer for her opposition to sexual harassment and prior participation in a third party’s lawsuit.