by Michael Fox
Although posting has been skimpy in general recently, I have been particularly lax on reporting on million dollar verdicts. Unfortunately, it is not that they have gone away, I just have not been a good reporter.
Perhaps I will catch up with them in the coming weeks as well as do updates on some that I have written about earlier. The latter is often a much harder job as the most newsworthy point of most such cases is the day the jury verdict is returned before the the rest of the legal process comes into play. Although the results are often dramatic, they rarely get reported.
In any event, the first reported in some time is a familiar fact pattern. Report of alleged wrongdoing by the company, suspension on the same day and termination less than 2 weeks later. The timing argument is a tough one to overcome, and the newspaper story, Jury awards Orkin termite technician $5.1M in whistle-blower suit doesn't have enough information to understand what the company's reason for the termination was. Clearly the jury didn't understand it either.
Plaintiff's counsel thought it was the largest verdict to date under the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act. One slight twist to this case was that four of the five million award was for emotional damages and just slightly over a million for punitive damages.