Payne& Fears LLP Obtains Summary Judgment Win for Employer in Wrongful Termination/Disability Discrimination Case (9/10/13)
Payne & Fears LLP won a wrongful termination case by obtaining summary judgment for its client, a nationwide retail department store, in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The plaintiff, a former manager, alleged that his employer violated the Fair Employment and Housing Act and the California Family Rights Act by terminating his employment days after he returned to work from a medical leave. In its motion for summary judgment, Payne & Fears argued that there was no causal nexus between plaintiff’s termination and his disability and medical leave, and that the employer terminated plaintiff’s employment for legitimate business reasons unrelated to any medical leave issues. The Court granted summary judgment for the defendant on all claims, finding no triable issues. Leila Narvid defended the case for the successful employer.
Payne & Fears LLP obtained an order granting summary judgment in favor of its client, a nationwide retail department store, in a public accommodations lawsuit alleging claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the California Disabled Persons Act, and the Unruh Civil Rights Act. Under California law, prevailing plaintiffs in public accommodations cases can obtain injunctive relief and attorneys’ fees, as well as actual, punitive and statutory damages. This has given rise to a cottage industry of “professional plaintiffs” with sue-and-settle tactics that have been largely effective. While many businesses choose to settle these cases early given the high stakes, Payne & Fears’ client chose to fight back with an aggressive defense. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California found that plaintiff’s claim of access barriers was without merit and that plaintiff was not denied public accommodation on the basis of his disability. Leila Narvid and Emily J. Schultz handled the defense of this case.
Payne & Fears LLP Obtains Summary Judgment Win for Employer in Wrongful Termination/Harassment Case (5/13/2013)
Payne & Fears LLP won a wrongful termination case by obtaining summary judgment for its clients, a publicly-traded employer and an individual manager, in Los Angeles County Superior Court. In Santoria Bell v. Corinthian Colleges, Inc. et al., the plaintiff alleged that Payne & Fears' clients had harassed and discriminated against her, and had ultimately discharged her after she made complaints. In a motion for summary judgment, Payne & Fears presented evidence establishing that no harassment had occurred, that the plaintiff had been treated no differently from any other employee, and that the plaintiff was actually discharged for failing to meet legitimate performance standards. The Court granted summary judgment for the defendants on all claims, finding no triable issues. Jeff Brown and Alex Ruiz defended the case for the successful employer and manager.
Payne & Fears LLP won a complete defense verdict for its clients, an employer and an individual supervisor, in a race harassment and retaliation case in Los Angeles County Superior Court. In White v. Corinthian Colleges, Inc., et. al., the plaintiff alleged that her employer and supervisor had subjected her to discrimination and harassment over a period of two years, and that they retaliated against her for making complaints about the alleged conduct. She also alleged that she had been assaulted and battered by having a lock of her hair cut off at work, and that she had been forced to work overtime without premium pay. During the six-day jury trial, the Court granted an oral nonsuit motion against the plaintiff's claims for discrimination and assault. The jury then overwhelmingly rejected plaintiff's claims for retaliation, harassment, battery and overtime compensation, finding that many of the incidents described in plaintiff's testimony simply had not occurred, and that the plaintiff had already been properly paid for any overtime that she did work. Jeff Brown and Alex Ruiz represented the successful employer and supervisor.
Payne & Fears LLP won an important victory for its homebuilder client in an insurance coverage dispute when a federal district court rejected the insurer's attempt to control a construction defect lawsuit after the insurer reversed its coverage denial.
In Travelers v. Centex II, Travelers filed suit against Centex in the Northern District of California, seeking a judicial declaration that it was entitled to control Centex's defense of several construction defect lawsuits, including two cases where Travelers had previously denied Centex's claims. Despite its prior denial of Centex's claims, Travelers argued it should be permitted to appoint Centex's defense counsel when it agreed belatedly to defend Centex.
In a motion for partial summary judgment, Centex argued that Traveler's prior denial of Centex's claim constituted a forfeiture of the contractual right to defend. District Court Judge Samuel Conti agreed with Centex: "Once the insurer takes on the duty to defend, it generally has the absolute right to manage the defense, and the insured is required to surrender all control," Judge Conti ruled. "The insurer's right to control the insurer's defense extends to the right to select legal counsel. However, when an insurer wrongfully refuses to defend, the insured is relieved of his or her obligation to allow the insurer to manage the litigation and may proceed in whatever manner is deemed appropriate."
J. Kelby Van Patten and Jeffrey M. Hayes represented Centex before the federal court.
Payne & Fears LLP won a defense verdict for its client in an employment discrimination case, Massoud v. Corinthian Colleges, Inc., following an eight-day trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The plaintiff alleged that she had been discriminated against based upon her age, and then terminated because of her age and in retaliation for making complaints about alleged discrimination. Payne & Fears LLP presented evidence on behalf of her employer that it had terminated the plaintiff for reasons having nothing to do with her age or with any alleged complaints, and that she had not even made any complaints of discrimination. The jury deliberated less than an hour-and-a-half before returning a complete defense verdict in the employer's favor. Jeff Brown and Rachel Warren represented the successful employer.
Payne & Fears LLP Obtains Summary Judgment Win for Employer in Wrongful Termination Case (4/24/2012)
Payne & Fears LLP obtained a summary judgment in favor of its client, a major national education provider, in a wrongful termination action before the United States District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiff, a former employee of Payne & Fears' client, alleged that the employer had violated the Family Medical and Leave Act and wrongfully terminated her in violation of public policy. In its motion for summary judgment, Payne & Fears LLP presented evidence on behalf of her employer showing that it had complied fully with its obligations under the FMLA, and that it had terminated the plaintiff's employment for legitimate reasons unrelated to any family or medical leave issues. The District Court granted summary judgment in the employer's favor on all claims, including the employer's counterclaim to recover overpaid wages from the plaintiff. Jeff Brown and Alex Ruiz defended the case for the successful employer.
On March 30, 2012, Payne & Fears LLP obtained summary judgment in favor of its client, a major national title company, in an alleged Truth in Lending Act violation matter in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs alleged that a bank had failed to provide the plaintiffs with the proper disclosures in connection with the refinancing of plaintiff's property in 2008 and the closing documents had been altered without the plaintiff's consent. The bank had in turn filed a third party complaint against the title company, seeking indemnity for any damages awarded against the bank as a result of irregularities in the closing documents. Following discovery in which the bank was unable to develop any evidence showing liability on the part of the title company, Payne & Fears moved for summary judgment. The motion was granted on March 30, 2012 and judgment was entered in favor of our client on the same day. Dan Livingston represented the successful title company.
Payne & Fears LLP won nearly $10 million in a jury trial in the San Diego Superior Court which concluded on December 27, 2011, on behalf of Estancia Coastal LLC. Estancia Coastal LLC is a subsidiary of TriPacific Capital Advisors, an investment advisor to the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association. Judge Thomas P. Nugent presided over the trial.
Estancia had entered into a "land banking" transaction with KB Home, a publicly held homebuilder, for a residential housing project in San Diego County. When the real estate market collapsed, KB Homes elected not to exercise its option to purchase the property, but failed to pay the property taxes, the government fees and the costs of completing the site improvements on the property as required by its contracts with Estancia's predecessor. Estancia sued to recover the amounts due.
Following a three week jury trial, the jury returned unanimous and near-unanimous verdicts in favor of Estancia, and awarded the approximately $9.8 million Estancia sought. Estancia is also entitled to recover its attorneys' fees, costs and pre-judgment interest, making the final judgment substantially larger.
Payne & Fears LLP attorneys Dan Livingston and Tom Vincent represented Estancia. "We were very pleased that the jury awarded the full amount we sought," said Livingston. "It was gratifying to see how well the jurors understood a very complex case and arrived at the right outcome. It was an honor to represent Estancia and the good people at TriPacific, who worked closely with us to produce this huge victory. KB Homes was a well-funded opponent represented by highly skilled attorneys from two major national law firms."
"We are extremely pleased with the verdict in this case - which represents a complete and total vindication of our position," said TriPacific CEO Geoffrey S. Fearns. "Although we were disappointed that we had to bring this matter to trial, we couldn't have asked for a better result. Dan Livingston and Tom Vincent did a truly superlative job explaining this case to the jury, and the award of 100% of the damages we were seeking is a testament to their outstanding advocacy skills."
Mr. Livingston and Mr. Vincent are partners in the firm's business litigation practice, which represents companies and individuals in all types of commercial disputes, including real estate, financial institution, intellectual property, trade secret and general business disputes.
Payne & Fears LLP is a regional business law firm with expertise in business litigation, employment, business transaction and insurance coverage litigation practices, representing a diverse range of businesses and industries. The firm currently has four offices in Irvine, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas.
A home builder client of the firm was recently sued for alleged non-disclosure and fraud in the California Superior Court based on allegations that the home builder misrepresented the sales prices of other homes sold in the new home community and conspired with the lender and appraiser to inflate the appraised value of the home purchased by the plaintiffs. The home builder denied all allegations of wrongdoing, believing that the accusations against it were unwarranted. Payne & Fears LLP vigorously defended the action by persistently attacking the allegations in the complaint on three successive demurrers, successfully securing judgment in favor of the firm's client at the pleading stage with an award of costs in the client's favor. Thomas L. Vincent and Erik M. Andersen represented the home builder in the matter.
On April 5, 2011, P&F obtained a dismissal with prejudice and judgment in Orange County Superior Court in favor of its client, a major national bank, in an alleged fraud and wrongful foreclosure case involving a commercial property. The plaintiff had alleged that the bank conspired with the other defendants to sell the property in a non-judicial foreclosure sale to deprive the plaintiff of the property. P&F demurred to the 21-count complaint and the demurrer was sustained on every count. When the plaintiff failed to file a timely amendment, P&F moved for dismissal with prejudice, which was granted by the court and judgment entered in favor of the bank. Dan Livingston represented the bank.
On March 8, 2011, P&F obtained summary judgment in the San Bernardino County Superior Court in favor of its client, a national manufacturing company, in an alleged "whistleblower" wrongful termination case. The Plaintiff claimed that the company fired him for reporting that his managers had unlawfully instructed him to cover up the nature of a co-worker's workplace injury. P&F brought a summary judgment motion arguing that, although the plaintiff had made accusations against his managers, the Company had terminated him because of his own failure to properly report the injury during a Company investigation. The Superior Court granted summary judgment, finding that the Plaintiff was not a "whistleblower" but an active participant in the alleged cover-up, and that his own misconduct was the cause of his termination. James L. Payne and James R. Moss represented the defendant.
Payne & Fears LLP Wins $4.3 Million Appeal in Closely Watched Case for Negligence, Sexual Battery, and Fraud by Concealment Case (3/02/2011)
In a case generating statewide media attention, the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Two, unanimously affirmed a damages award of $4.3 million in favor of the firm's client (Patricia Behr) for lifetime damages resulting from the defendant's failure to disclose an infectious virus before transmitting it to her. When the defendant subsequently informed Ms. Behr of the infection, the court found that he had misrepresented the nature of the risk. Attorney Paul D. Herbert successfully argued the case before the Court of Appeal, which has since ordered that its decision be published in California's Official Reports as Behr v. Redmond,__Cal. App. 4th__,2011 WL 721465, as modified at 2011 WL 1090305 (2011).
The California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Three today affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of P&F's client, a leading developer and manufacturer of biomedical products. A former employee had brought suit against the company in Superior Court, alleging sexual harassment, retaliation and related claims. After discovery, P&F moved for summary judgment, and in September 2009, the trial court granted judgment for the client. The employee appealed, and after briefing and oral argument, the Court of Appeal affirmed the victory for P&F's client. Daniel F. Fears, Eric C. Sohlgren and Daniel F. Lula handled the appeal, with Mr. Fears arguing the case before the Court of Appeal.
The California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, today affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of P&F's client, a large national bank, on a former employee's claims under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The employee had alleged that his termination for disability-related absenteeism violated the Act. In its summary judgment motion, P&F established that the termination was based on other, non-protected attendance infractions. In January 2009, the Superior Court granted summary judgment, and the employee appealed. After briefing and oral argument, the Court of Appeal affirmed judgment for P&F's client. Daniel F. Fears, Eric C. Sohlgren and Daniel F. Lula handled the appeal, with Mr. Sohlgren arguing the case before the appellate court.
Payne & Fears LLP helped lead counsel in Virginia obtain summary judgment in May, 2010 in favor of a major retail franchisor over a statewide class action lawsuit affecting thousands of employees. The named plaintiff, an employee of one of defendant's franchises, brought suit in the Imperial County Superior Court, alleging claims for breach of contract and unfair business practices. She alleged that she was a third party beneficiary to the franchise agreement and that she had been deprived of wages due to the payroll services defendant provided to its franchise operators. Eric C. Sohlgren and Sheela S. Krishnan of Payne & Fears LLP supported Eric Welter of the Welter Law Firm in defense of the case. Payne & Fears LLP has in-depth experience in assisting companies and counsel throughout the United States in defending employment cases brought in California.
Payne & Fears LLP Negotiates $1.5 Million Recovery of Defense Costs After Liability Insurer Denies Coverage (2010)
Payne & Fears LLP recently succeeded in securing the recovery from its liability insurer of $1,500,000 in defense costs incurred by the client after its commercial general liability insurer denied coverage and refused to defend several putative class-action lawsuits seeking damages, disgorgement of profits and injunctive relief related to insured's alleged illegal marketing of alcoholic beverages to underage consumers.
Payne & Fears LLP successfully defeated a claim that its client violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by implementing a policy which excludes Segway vehicles from its theme park. The hard work of Dan Fears, Daniel Rasmussen and Julie Bisceglia resulted in a published opinion which is very favorable to the firm's client.
Payne & Fears LLP Obtains Judgment In Favor of Client, Plus Award of Attorneys' Fees and Costs (2010)
Payne & Fears LLP recently obtained an arbitration award in favor of our client for damages over a commercial contract for a large modular building installed on a United States Air Force base. After awarding our client multiple six figures in damages, the arbitrator also awarded our client all of its attorneys' fees and costs. Shortly after the award, the Orange County Superior Court confirmed the arbitration award and entered judgment in favor of our client.
Payne & Fears LLP Wins Appeal Upholding Grant of Summary Judgment for Client and Award of Attorneys' Fees and Costs
Payne & Fears LLP obtained an order granting summary judgment in favor of its client, American Reprographics Company, on claims brought by Jefferson Wells International, Inc. After entering judgment in favor of American Reprographics Company, the trial court also awarded American Reprographics Company its attorneys' fees and costs. After Jefferson Wells appealed the judgment, Payne & Fears LLP successfully persuaded the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Five, to affirm the judgment in American Reprographics Company's favor, including the award of attorneys' fees and costs. American Reprographics Company was represented in the defense verdict by Benjamin A. Nix, Erik M. Andersen, and Marisa J. Ippolito.
In September, 2007, the congregation of a historic Angleno Heights church retained Payne & Fears LLP as appellate counsel after suffering a complete defeat in the Los Angeles Superior Court. The church, which is a California nonprofit corporation, had been affiliated for many years with a "cooperative fellowship" of Pentecostal churches. The officers of this larger association used the affiliation as a pretext to seize control of the corporation, occupy its property (valued at over $14 million), and literally lock the congregation out of its own church. After a three day bench trial, the lower court entered judgment against the church in a written decision holding that religious corporations lose all rights when they affiliate with a large association. Payne & Fears LLP substituted in as counsel and appealed, arguing that California law expressly protects the rights of religious corporations notwithstanding spiritual affiliations. The California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, agreed with Payne & Fears LLP on all points, reversed the judgment in full, ordered a trial on two claims, and directed the Superior Court to enter judgment for the client on all remaining claims. The published decision is entitled Iglesia Evangelica Latina, Inc. v. Southern Pacific Latin American Dist. of the Assemblies of God, 173 Cal. App. 4th 420, 93 Cal. Rptr. 3d 75 (2009). Eric C. Sohlgren and Daniel F. Lula handled the appeal.
Payne & Fears LLP represented a Boeing ERISA health plan which had been sued by a provider for the plan’s alleged wrongful denial of coverage due to a determination that the medical care being provided was excluded under the plan as an investigational treatment. Upon Payne & Fears LLP’s motion for summary judgment, the court held that the plan’s decision to deny coverage was only subject to abuse of discretion review under ERISA, and that under that review the plan’s decision to deny coverage was reasonable based on its investigation of the claims and its interpretation of the plan documents. Accordingly, having found there to be no abuse of discretion, all claims against the plan were dismissed with prejudice. Eric C. Sohlgren and Vonn R. Christenson handled the defense of this case.
Payne & Fears LLP obtained a defense verdict for a manufacturing client on claims for racial discrimination, racial harassment and retaliation in a jury trial in San Bernardino County Superior Court. The plaintiff was a 19-year employee whose employment was terminated for two safety violations in a short period of time. He alleged that his safety violations were fabricated by his Supervisor in order to arrange his termination, motivated by the Supervisor's bias against him on the basis of his race (African-American) and age (over 65). He also accused his Supervisor of repeatedly harassing him on the basis of his race and age, using racial epithets and accused his employer of terminating him in retaliation for complaints about the Supervisor's alleged harassment. After a two-week trial, the jury returned defense verdicts on all of the plaintiff's race-based claims, for discrimination, harassment and retaliation. While the jury was deliberating on the plaintiff's age claims, plaintiff accepted a cost waiver in exchange for abandoning his remaining claims for discrimination and harassment on the basis of his age. James L. Payne and James R. Moss tried the case, with assistance from Laura Fleming.
Payne & Fears LLP Wins Appeal for Online Dating Service (Surrey v. True Beginnings LLC, 168 Cal.App.4th 414 (2008))
Payne & Fears LLP’s client, a Texas-based online dating service, prevailed at the trial court and in a subsequent appeal in a dispute involving accusations of violations of California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act and Unfair Competition Law. The complaint alleged that the dating service had violated these laws by offering more favorable subscription terms to women than to men. Daniel L. Rasmussen and Julie J. Bisceglia handled the defense of the case and the appeal.
After Payne & Fears LLP litigation attorneys obtained a substantial judgment for a client and during a subsequent appeal, the opposing parties attempted to fraudulently convey the real property which was the subject of the litigation in order to avoid paying the judgment. Payne & Fears filed a creditor's claim to secure the judgment and to set aside the fraudulent conveyance. Following a bench trial, the judge found for Payne & Fears’ clients on all counts, and ordered the attempted transfer set aside and the property sold to satisfy the judgment in favor of its clients, which will soon total over $1.2 million dollars. Daniel M. Livingston represented the victorious clients in the jury trial, the appeal and the later bench trial.
Payne & Fears LLP recently wrapped up the final piece of a multi-million dollar insurance recovery for its client, one of Los Angeles’s largest nonprofit hospitals. The hospital had received no assistance from its liability insurers in defending claims by a disaffected doctors’ group for allegedly breaching the parties’ contract and engaging in a series of business torts. The firm's attorneys formulated and executed an insurance strategy that, following three lawsuits, enabled the hospital to recover several multiples of its out-of-pocket defense costs and settlement payment. The prosecution involved recoveries under a wide assortment of policies, including hospital comprehensive liability, commercial general liability, directors and officers liability, and managed care errors and omissions policies.
Payne & Fears LLP obtained a complete defense victory for its client, a major local manufacturer, in an employment discrimination case. Plaintiff alleged that Payne & Fears' client discriminated against the plaintiff based upon his age, retaliated against him for making internal complaints, breached an employment contract, wrongfully terminated the plaintiff, and wrongfully withheld several hundred thousand dollars of salary and stock options. After a five-day arbitration, Payne & Fears LLP obtained an award in the employer's favor on all claims. Jeffrey K. Brown and Katherine L. Pearson handled the defense of the case.
Payne & Fears LLP Wins Appeal in Unruh Civil Rights Act Suit (Cohn v. Corinthian Colleges, 169 Cal.App.4th 523 (2008))
Payne & Fears was retained by Corinthian Colleges to defend claims that the company’s sponsorship of a promotional giveaway of tote bags on Mother’s Day at Angel Stadium of Anaheim violated California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act. Plaintiff’s claims were dismissed pursuant to a motion for summary judgment, which was later affirmed on appeal. Daniel L. Rasmussen and Julie J. Bisceglia handled the defense of the case and the appeal.
Published Ninth Circuit Victory in Antitrust and Lanham Act Case (Fisher Tool Co., Inc. v. Gillet Outillage, 530 F.3d 1063 (9th Cir. 2008))
Payne & Fears LLP won summary judgment for its client, a New Jersey intellectual property law firm, in an action brought by a California tool distributor and its Taiwanese supplier. The complaint alleged that the client violated federal antitrust law, the Lanham Act, and state law when it brought a prior suit against the distributor and suppliant for patent infringement, and sought millions in damages. In 2005, Payne & Fears brought a successful motion for partial summary judgment on litigation privilege grounds, which eliminated six of nine claims. After discovery, Payne & Fears LLP persuaded the federal court that the underlying patent case was supported by probable cause and protected the Noerr-Pennington doctrine, resulting in the dismissal of the three remaining claims against the client. The result was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Daniel L. Rasmussen and Daniel F. Lula handled the defense of the case and the appeal.
Payne & Fears LLP Homebuilder Client Wins Appeal (Greystone Homes, Inc. v. Midtec, Inc., 168 Cal.App.4th 1194 (2008))
Payne & Fears LLP attorneys represented Greystone Homes in an appeal of a judgment against a product manufacturer. In a case of first impression, the court ruled in Greystone Homes, Inc. v. Midtec, Inc., et al. that a homebuilder may pursue claims for equitable indemnity against individual product manufacturers for purely economic losses where the losses would be recoverable by a homeowner under the Right to Repair Act. Greystone was represented on the appeal by Thomas L. Vincent and Erik M. Andersen.
Payne & Fears has LLP obtained a major reimbursement victory for its clients, a group of nonprofit hospitals, against Blue Shield of California, a major health plan. For years Blue Shield had denied reimbursement to the hospitals under the parties’ contracts by “disallowing” certain hospital charges. The Los Angeles Superior Court recently ruled that, because Blue Shield violated Health & Safety Code section 1371 in disallowing the charges, it did not have the right to contest payment and is legally obligated to pay the charges with statutory interest, notwithstanding any contractual defenses.
Payne & Fears LLP attorneys successfully defended against a challenge to a jury verdict in favor of its clients, two Laguna Beach property owners. Following a three-week trial, an Orange County jury found that the property owners did not withhold material information from the plaintiffs in connection with the sale of a multimillion dollar property. The jury also found that the plaintiffs were fully aware of the condition of the property and gave the sellers a full and complete release of all claims. On appeal, the plaintiffs argued that the trial court improperly submitted the question of the release to the jury and that insufficient evidence existed to support the jury's verdict. The Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, rejected these arguments in full and affirmed the jury verdict and trial court's judgment. Adding to the victory, Payne & Fears LLP succeeded in obtaining a substantial attorneys' fees award for its clients encompassing defense costs incurred in the trial court and on appeal. Daniel M. Livingston handled the jury trial and appeal; Daniel F. Lula assisted on the appeal.
In January 2006, Payne & Fears LLP obtained a complete dismissal of a discrimination suit brought against its client, a local hospital, in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiff, a surgeon formerly under contract with the hospital, claimed race, disability and sexual orientation discrimination by the hospital and other entity and individual defendants. After the dismissal of his case in District Court, the plaintiff filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit. On appeal, Payne & Fears LLP argued that (1) the plaintiff failed to allege sufficient facts to establish a "severe and pervasive" hostile work environment for purposes of Section 1981; (2) the plaintiff's claims for workplace discrimination were insufficient to state a claim under sections 51 and 51.5; and (3) the plaintiff's claims under the FEHA were barred by the statute of limitations. The Ninth Circuit agreed with Payne & Fears LLP on all three issues and upheld the dismissal of plaintiff's lawsuit. James L. Payne and Laura Fleming handled the defense of this case.
Payne & Fears LLP represented an employer headquartered in Seattle in an action pending in the United States District Court, Northern District of California, San Jose Division. The plaintiff, a male, alleged that he was constructively discharged and sexually harassed by a female who was the head of Human Resources. Payne & Fears LLP prepared a motion for summary judgment which showed a substantial amount of evidence regarding plaintiff’s poor work performance to establish a lack of pretext for terminating plaintiff. The court granted summary judgment in its entirety except for the sexual harassment claims. The case then settled for a fraction of plaintiff’s original demand.
Practice Area: Labor and Employment Litigation
Payne & Fears LLP obtained summary judgment on behalf of its client, a major aerospace manufacturer, with regard to a purported whistleblower suit brought in Orange County Superior Court and removed to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiff, a former employee and registered nurse, claimed that she had been terminated in retaliation for her complaints about other employees who allegedly failed to appear for their scheduled health exams according to company policy. Payne & Fears LLP obtained summary judgment based upon the plaintiff's admissions at deposition, along with declarations from key witnesses, which established that the plaintiff had not engaged in any legally protected activity prior to her termination, and that the plaintiff had no evidence to support her claim that the company's stated reason for her termination was pretext for retaliation. Daniel F. Fears, Laura Fleming and Laura B. Chaimowitz handled the defense of this case.
Payne & Fears LLP obtained summary judgment on behalf of its client, a major Southern California theme park, with regard to a disability discrimination/retaliation suit brought in Orange County Superior Court and removed to U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiff, a former employee, alleged that she had been wrongfully demoted when she was not offered an identical secretarial position upon her return from an extended leave of absence. Payne & Fears LLP obtained summary judgment based upon the plaintiff's admissions at deposition, which established that the plaintiff was not disabled at the time of the alleged wrongful demotion; that she never notified her employer of any need for accommodation; and that she had not engaged in any legally-protected activity at the time she was cleared to return to work. Daniel F. Fears and Laura Fleming handled the defense of the case.
Payne & Fears LLP obtained summary judgment on behalf of its client, a major national manufacturer, in a wage-and-hour class action in which the plaintiffs alleged that the defendant had failed to provide its union-represented employees with meal periods required under state law. Payne & Fears LLP removed the action (which had been filed in California Superior Court) to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California based on the argument that plaintiffs' claims were preempted by the Labor Management Relations Act. Payne & Fears LLP then successfully resisted the plaintiffs' motion to remand by demonstrating that the putative class members had agreed, through the applicable collective bargaining agreement, to take "on-duty" meal periods, and that the relevant contract terms required interpretation that could only be performed under the Labor Management Relations Act. The court then granted Payne & Fears' motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case. James L. Payne, Jeffrey K. Brown and James R. Moss handled the defense of the case.
Following an eight-week jury trial of a high-stakes glass ceiling sex discrimination case, the jury returned a complete defense verdict in favor of Payne & Fears LLP’s client, Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc. ("TAIS"). The plaintiff, a former national sales vice president, alleged that TAIS, a maker of sophisticated laptop computers, failed to promote her to the highest executive levels of the company due to her sex. In addition, the plaintiff pointed to an alleged under-representation of women at the top executive level as evidence of a general atmosphere of discrimination. At trial, Payne & Fears LLP litigators demonstrated that various promotional decisions and reorganizations surrounding the plaintiff were necessary adaptations to a volatile technology industry. Payne & Fears LLP also established that TAIS, in the face of a declining workforce, had made good faith efforts to increase representation of women in upper management. James L. Payne and Laura Fleming handled the jury trial.