Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Not Quite Halloween, But Still A Scary (MDV) Story

California is obviously not the only place where large verdicts in employment law cases occur, but it certainly has its share. The latest -- an MDV returned yesterday by a San Francisco federal jury following a three week trial over the claims of a PhD level petroleum engineer, Chevron ordered to pay $5.5 million in wrongful firing case.

The underlying claim appeared to be national origin discrimination as Kiran Pande, the plaintiff, was born in India. That angle was certainly played up in the headline from an Indian website, The Economic Times, Fired NRI engineer gets $5.5 mn over racist remarks, but even as that article points out, the claim that appeared to carry the day was her retaliation claim.

Although punitive damages were certainly a large part of the verdict ($2.5 million) the past and future economic damages were over $3 million. Although the articles don't say what Kiran Pande was making before she did not take an offered transfer to Houston, my guess is that it was pretty high. Which is another good reminder that certainly plaintiff's lawyers do not forget -- the higher the former income of the plaintiff, the more valuable the case.

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