Lawyer Wins MDV -- For Himself
by Michael Fox
It is generally thought that lawyers are not the most sympathetic of plaintiffs, which is probably true. But when it is a lawyer suing his law firm for wrongful termination -- Jury Awards Lawyer $1.1 Million in Wrongful Termination Suit. But at least it was a 9-3 verdict.
Warren Snider, a 51 year old associate at the Pasadena, California firm of Laquer Urban Clifford & Hodge LLP, notified the firm he was undergoing a 48 week course of treatment for liver disease which might cause him to miss the 150 hour per month billing requirement, although he thought he should be able to average 135 to 140. According to the story from the Metropolitan News Enterprise, four months into his treatment program he was terminated for attending his father-in-law's memorial service in Northern California.
The jury found the firm failed to accommodate Snider and wrongfully terminated him. It awarded him his earnings through age 62, almost an even million dollars, and $105,000 for emotional distress. He had offered to settle for $450,000.
When I first started the practice of law 30 years ago, it was almost unheard of that a law firm would appear in court in any role other than as counsel for one of the parties. Now, with malpractice claims multiplying and the practice of law talked about even by the practitioners themselves as "a business", it is no surprise that law firms as employers are finding themselves in a very different court room role.