This page is all about the largest wrongful termination verdicts in California history. It’s rare for good cases to go to trial. Cases usually settle. But sometimes they don’t and when a trial happens, one side wins, the other loses. This page is an accumulation of the largest wrongful termination verdicts for employees.
About the List
Some of these verdicts are mixed verdicts, meaning they also had a discrimination claim or whistleblower claim along with the WT claim. But every effort was made to verify that one of the main claims before the jury was the tort of wrongful termination in violation of public policy.
So why a list of only verdicts, and not include settlements? While it is true that the majority of wrongful termination cases settle, almost every settlement has a strict confidentiality provision that prevents the parties from disclosing the data. So, the large settlements are not public knowledge. We don’t even have a list of average settlement values.
Keep in mind when looking at the list of wrongful termination verdicts that many times the large amounts are due to punitive damages. Punitive damages are extremely rare, but handed out to deter companies from engaging in the same type of bad act. Because the rarity of punitive damages, you never expect them. Every case, even if they are extremely similar to one within the list, has various factors that affect value including the mood of the judge and jury on the day of the trial as well as if a higher court feels as though the awards were too high.
In addition to the amount of the verdict, we have also provided when the verdict came through, a short synopsis of the case, and the lead trial lawyer for the lawsuit. But please note, Robert Odell was the trial lawyer in only one of the below cases. If you have an employment issue, these verdict amount do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. We have spent a good amount of time building this list, but we can’t guarantee that we have all the biggest verdicts in CA history. We have tried our best! We will try to update this list every year or two.
The Largest Wrongful Termination Verdicts in California
|Verdict Amount||Year||Case Details||Lead Trial Lawyer|
|$25,100,000||2017||Babyak v. Cardiovascular Systems. Plaintiff, an excellent salesperson, complained that other salespeople were breaking FDA law by promoting CSI’s leg catheter for use in heart arteries (which it didn’t have FDA approval for). CSI retaliated by demoting, increasing his quota, taking away good territory, and then firing him. The award was for compensatory and punitive damages.||Robert Odell & Tamara Freeze|
|$21,700,000||2013||Rodriguez v. Valley Vista Services. Plaintiff, a customer service rep, had a mental illness and was fired for it.||Carney Shegerian|
|$20,000,000||2016||Williams v. Wyndham. Plaintiff, a time share sale representative for Wyndham, was fired after protesting sales practices which were elder abuse.||Anne Costin & Christopher Dolan|
|$18,300,000||2012||Ward v. Dr. Pepper. Six plaintiffs were awarded $18.3 total due to practices by Dr. Pepper aimed to make older employees want to quit.||Michael Baltaxe|
|$18,000,000||2012||Marlo v. UPS. Plaintiff claimed there were safety and wage violations. He was terminated after.||Mark Peters|
|$16,000,000||2014||Nickel v. Staples. Plaintiff, a 64-year-old worker, was terminated so his boss could hire younger employees. A jury initially awarded $26 million, but that as reduced.||Carney Shegerian|
|$8,713,000||2015||Leggins v. Rite Aid Corp. Plaintiff, a manager at Rite Aid, was terminated after he was attacked a robbery of his store.||Carney Shegerian|
|$8,500,000||2012||Daniel v. Tesoro Refining. Plaintiff, a shift supervisor, was injured on the job. When another company bought her employer they changed her job duties forcing her to go on a 22 month medical leave. The new company terminated her.||Carney Shegerian|
|$7,393,540||2016||Yowan Yang v. Actionet, Inc. Plaintiff was attacked by a co-worker over a disagreement about moving cubicles. The co-worker choked Plaintiff, screamed that he was going to kill him, and destroyed his work station. In response, Actionet terminated the employment of Plaintiff without performing an investigation.||Jim DeSimone|
|$6,241,655||2012||Webb v. Ramos Oil, Co. Plaintiff, a tanker truck driver for Ramos Oil was terminated from his employment for refusing to drive in a ferocious storm while intoxicated.||Lawrance Bohm|
|$5,500,000||2012||Brim v. IUOE, Local 501. A woman perceived to be associated in a lawsuit against her employer alleging FEHA violations was terminated in retaliation||Lee Feldman|
|$5,400,000||2011||Tran v. US Mineral Products. Plaintiff, a manager, was fired for complaining about his secretary being sexually harassed by the company’s chief executive.||Victor George|
|$5,200,000||2012||Johnson v. Sears Holding. Plaintiff was the target of racist remarks. When he complained to the company, they threatened to terminate him and his coworker if he complained about it.||Chris Whelan|
|$4,646,252||2013||Steffens v. Regus Management Group. Plaintiff, a manager, voiced concerns over her employees being unable to take meal and rest breaks. She was immediately put on a “formulaic and virtually unattainable” performance improvement plan, which led to her termination.||Cindy Panuco|
|$4,000,000||2015||Cerbone v. Roman Catholic Bishop of Sacramento. Plaintiff, a high school football coach, was terminated after discovering and reporting sexual hazing amongst the student athletes.||David Lowe|
|$3,500,000||2012||Palma v. Rite Aid. Plaintiff, a store manager, was terminated after being diagnosed with a serious disability.||Carney Shegerian|
|$3,240,000||2011||Thomas v. TapOut. Plaintiff, a saleswoman, was terminated for not watching the companies reality TV show and not watching their pay-per-view events on her own dime. She was also berated by her boss in an attempt to get her to quit instead of paying her commissions.||Carney Shegerian|
|$2,892,187||2013||De La Cruz v. Cal-Pac Sonoma||Stephen Murphy|
|$2,160,000||2012||Hussein v. Farmers Group. Plaintiff has just beaten cancer, but had developed chronic pain syndrome. His company failed to reasonably accommodate him.||Arash Homampour|
|$2,000,000||2011||Radford v. BAE Systems. Plaintiff was terminated due to their race.||Carla Minnard|
|$1,686,500||2015||Rivera v. Costco. Plaintiff, a forklift operator, had multiple medical leaves for surgery. His employer accused him of sexual harassment, broke company policy, and emailed the plaintiff’s medical records to investigators to get him fired.||Bernard Alexander|
|$1,670,000||2011||O’Connor v. Corona Regional Medical Center. Plaintiff, a supervisory nurse, was fired for disciplining subordinates while trying to improve patient care||Jeff Rager|
|$1,500,000||2014||Abyane v. County of Los Angeles. Plaintiff, a social worker, had a new boss who discriminated against her, and eventually terminated her due to her race.|
|$1,498,873||2016||Rinehart v. Bank Card Consultants||Laruen Morrison|
|$1,472,600||2014||Renfro v. California Dept. of Correctionsa and Rehabilitation. Plaintiff, a psychologist, was fired for starting a library without management approval, but she claimed she was terminated due to her race. Inconsistencies in personnel lying about the reasons that led to her firing persuaded a jury to believe her story.||Mary-Alice Coleman|
|$1,325,000||2015||O’Brien v. Baca||Nathan Goldberg|
|$1,292,436||2014||Main v. Valley Slurry Seal.||Adam Reisner|
|$1,242,125||2016||Rubalcaba v. Albertsons. Plaintiff, a 34 yr employee of Albertsons, was fired for “taking home empty boxes,” but the real reason for his termination was due to a brain tumor that he had. Attorney’s fees are pending, so this award could get larger.||Nancy Abrolat|
|$1,200,000||2011||Young v. City of Los Angeles. Plaintiff, a city college coach, reported alleged academic fraud and misuse of educational funds, including financial aid. He was then fired.||Louis Cohen|
|$1,178,000||2013||Saldina v. DirecTV. Plaintiff developed an eye condition, which led to more errors at work. The company did not try to reasonably accommodate her and eventually terminated her for an increase in errors.||J. Bernard Alexander|