Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Monday, April 04, 2005

An MDV Close to Home - San Antonio Jury Awards $4.6 Million

Not quite sure how I missed the story of an MDV just 80 miles down I-35, Lowe's ordered to pay $4.6M. That's from the Kerrville Daily Times which appears to be the only link about the case that still shows up on a Google News search and ran the story since the plaintiff, Jana Smith worked at the Kerrville Lowe's.

According to a statement by a spokesman for Jana Smith's counsel, "After wrongfully terminating Ms. Smith, Lowe's management defamed her by telling co-workers and third parties that she was terminated for theft, stealing or other unlawful conduct." Lowe's post-trial statement, besides expressing the usual disappointment, said Smith "admitted violating company policy by using her employee discount to buy a ride-on lawnmower for her husband's employer, and also violated policy by handling a return of the equipment after it was used." Not hard to tell which side of the story this particular jury identified with.

I missed the original reports of the trial which lasted for four days the last week of February. The case was tried before Judge Xavier Rodriguez, who may be the only Board certified labor and employment lawyer sitting on a bench in Texas. According to the news story, four hours of the trial was consumed by the jury deliberations. That works out to about a $1.15 million per hour of deliberation.

The way I caught the story was a tombstone ad in the April Texas Lawyer, by the plaintiff's firm congratulating themselves -- make that, announcing the verdict. Maybe I am still old school, but somehow the announcements of such things by the lawyers involved makes me a little squeamish. Of course I have never gotten a $4.6 million verdict either, and not that likely to on this side of the docket. Although the press can't make Lowe's all that happy, the truth is that at least as of today according to the Pacer docket sheet, Judge Rodriguez still has not entered judgment, which is of substantially more economic significance than the jury verdict. I will wait for the tombstone on that one.


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