Category Archives: Punitive damages

Charleston, WV Jury Awards $1.7m in Age Discrimination Case, 10–1-09

On Octo­ber 1, 2009, a jury in Charleston, Kanawha Coun­ty, West Vir­ginia returned a ver­dict in an age dis­crim­i­na­tion case, award­ing James Nagy a total of $1,750,450.

The Law­suit

James Nagy filed suit in Charleston in March 2008 against West Vir­ginia Amer­i­can Water Com­pa­ny, alleg­ing that he was fired in March 2007 because of his age at 53, after 23 years of employ­ment.

James Nagy was rep­re­sent­ed by Maria W. Hugh­es and Stephen Weber at Kay Cas­to & Chaney PLLC. West Vir­ginia Amer­i­can Water Com­pa­ny was rep­re­sent­ed by Mychal Schulz at Dins­more & Shohl LLC.

The case is pend­ing in Cir­cuit Court in Kanawha Coun­ty, West Vir­ginia, before Judge Jen­nifer Bai­ley-Walk­er.

The Ver­dict

That $1,750,450 ver­dict con­sist­ed of:

  • $150,000 for humil­i­a­tion,

Award of Attorney’s Fees and Expens­es

Under the West Vir­ginia Human Rights Act (which pro­hibits age and oth­er forms of dis­crim­i­na­tion in the work­place), Nagy’s coun­sel filed a motion addi­tion­al­ly request­ing attor­neys’ fees and expens­es.

Judge Bai­ley-Walk­er award­ed the plain­tiff total attorney’s fees of $177,772.50, and $8,855.33 in expens­es.

Appeal

The Defen­dant is in the process of appeal­ing.  The issue of attor­neys’ fees was resolved by Judge Bai­ley-Walk­er on June 8, 2010, so the appeal process is in its ear­ly stages as of the date of this arti­cle being updat­ed (July 31, 2010). As things devel­op in the appeal, I will update this arti­cle.

July 31, 2010

Jackson County jury awards $2.1 million in age case

On March 17, 2010, a jury in Jack­son Coun­ty in West Vir­ginia award­ed Jerold John Rice Jr. rough­ly $2.1 mil­lion in an age dis­crim­i­na­tion case against The Burke-Par­sons-Bowl­by Cor­po­ra­tion, Stel­la-Jones US Hold­ings Cor­po­ra­tion, and Stel­la-Jones, Inc., tried in Judge Thomas C. Evans III’s court.

Mr. Rice was rep­re­sent­ed by Mark Atkin­son and Paul Framp­ton at Atkin­son & Polak, PLLC, and the defen­dants were rep­re­sent­ed by Roger Wolfe at Jack­son & Kel­ly PLLC in Charleston, and Kevin Hyde at Foley & Lard­ner, LLP in Jack­sonville, Flori­da.

Here is a quick run-down of what was award­ed in the case:

  • Back pay: $142,659 award­ed by jury.
  • Pre-judg­ment inter­est: $11,791.84 from date of ter­mi­na­tion through tri­al.
  • Front pay: $1,991,332.00 award­ed by jury (from rough­ly age 48 through retire­ment age at 67).
  • Emo­tion­al dis­tress: $0.
  • Puni­tive dam­ages: Jury did not answer ques­tion affir­ma­tive­ly which would have allowed award of puni­tive dam­ages.
  • Total judg­ment based on jury’s ver­dict: $2,145,782.84, plus post-judg­ment inter­est on that amount at 7% per annum.
  • Attor­neys’ fees: $117,235 award­ed by judge (based on $450 an hour for Mark Atkin­son and $300 per hour for Paul Framp­ton).
  • Lit­i­ga­tion expens­es: $20,324.16 award­ed by judge.
  • Total award: $2,283,342.00 (based on jury ver­dict, pre-judg­ment inter­est, attor­neys’ fees and expens­es) plus post-judg­ment inter­est at 7% per annum.

The Rice case illus­trates the risk employ­ers face when they ter­mi­nate an old­er, good, long-stand­ing employ­ee, and replace him or her with a much younger per­son with lit­tle or no expe­ri­ence for the employ­er.

What Hap­pened?

Mr. Rice at the time of his ter­mi­na­tion (in 2009) was age 47 and had worked for Burke-Par­sons-Bowl­by Cor­po­ra­tion for 24 years. When Mr. Rice was ter­mi­nat­ed he was the cor­po­rate con­troller.

Con­tin­ue read­ing Jack­son Coun­ty jury awards $2.1 mil­lion in age case