Hon. Suzanne G. Bruguera (Ret.)

Profile

Hon. Suzanne G. Bruguera (Ret.) joins ADR Services, Inc. after 27 years as a judge of the Los Angeles Superior and former Municipal Courts, with the entirety of her time on the bench spent in civil assignments. Responsible for handling hundreds of cases with unlimited jurisdiction as an independent calendar judge, Judge Bruguera is known for negotiating difficult settlements and for conducting controversial high publicity jury trials.  She is a well-respected jurist, known for being firm, fair, and able to settle cases which other settlement officers could not.

Patient, courteous, and respectful, Judge Bruguera’s excellent judicial temperament made her one of the most admired civil trial judges on the bench. Her success as a judge reflects the high regard in which she is held in the legal community, and she has often been recognized for her high level of intellect, sound decision-making, and dedication to each case before her.

Judge Bruguera’s judicial career was preceded by experience as a Deputy Attorney General for the California State Department of Justice, where she handled complex business and tax matters and Medi-Cal fraud for nearly five years. Prior to that, she was a Deputy District Attorney for the County of Los Angeles and spent a year in private practice.

Areas of Specialization

  • Employment
  • Real Estate
  • Business & Commercial
  • Personal Injury
  • Entertainment
  • Elder Law

Professional Experience

  • 2000 – 2016    Judge, Los Angeles Superior Court
    Presided over an Independent Calendar courtroom, Stanley Mosk Courthouse
    Elevated to Superior Court upon court unification in 2000
  • 1989 – 2000    Judge, Los Angeles Municipal Court
    Appointed by Governor George Deukmejian in July 1989
  • 1984 – 1989    Deputy Attorney General, California State Department of Justice
    Business & Tax Section
    Previously in Medical Fraud
  • 1983 – 1984    Deputy District Attorney, County of Los Angeles
    Criminal prosecutor
  • 1982 – 1983    Associate, Voorhees, Knable, & Voorhees
    Private law practice in Torrance, California

Education

  • 2017  “STAR: A Systematic Approach to Mediation Strategies”, Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University (18 hours)
  • 1981  J.D., Loyola Law School
  • 1978  B.S., University of Southern California

Representative Cases

ACCOUNTING & TAXATION

  • Dispute regarding sales tax treatment of gratuities automatically added to restaurant bills without prior authorization of customers who reserve separate rooms for events held at the restaurant.

ADA & DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION

  • Dispute regarding allegations that plaintiff was a disabled mobility impaired shopper requiring a wheelchair. She filed a complaint, alleging that she encountered obstacles in several stores located in a mall, in the parking lot, and in the mall restroom. Defendant alleged that plaintiff visited the same locations on many occasions without complaint or notice to employees, and that several of the violations were de minimis, such as the restroom violation that the mirror in the restroom was placed too high for use by anyone in a wheelchair. The violations in the complaint included violation of the ADA, the Unruh Civil Rights Act (Civil Code section 51 et seq.), and Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations.
  • An employee alleged that she complained to her employer about computers which were located in a manner which caused injury and strain to herself and to her co-workers. When she received no response, she complained to OSHA. Her employer yelled at her during a meeting for complaining, and announced that she had to go. Her work station was relocated to an undesirable location, and she was removed from the online work schedule. She requested accommodation at her new work location for her ongoing cancer treatment, but received no response. She requested being returned to her former work location, and instead, was relocated to an even less desirable location which did not provide accommodation, and her hours were reduced. She requested to transfer to a vacant and available position which would accommodate her condition, which was denied. She then repeatedly complained that she was being retaliated against and was not being accommodated. Employee sued for failure to accommodate and engage in interactive process in violation of Government Code section 12940, for disability discrimination, and retaliation in violation of Labor Code section 1102.5.
  • Employee alleged that, after spending 20 years as a laborer in the shipping department, she underwent cancer treatment, preventing her from lifting heavy loads. She alleged that she was requested to and did provide a physician's note listing her restrictions. Adequate accommodation was not provided, and the physician determined she was unable to work. After spending a year out of work on disability, she requested to return to work, but was not given her former position, nor an alternate position, accommodating her limitations. Employee sued for violations of Government Code section 12940 for disparate treatment based on disability, failure to provide reasonable accommodation, failure to engage in the interactive process, for the failure to prevent harassment, discrimination and retaliation, for retaliation, for violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (Government Code section 12945.2), and for wrongful termination, discrimination and retaliation in violation of public policy for exercising her rights.
  • Complaint for disability discrimination, failure to prevent discrimination and harassment, retaliation, failure to accommodate disability, failure to engage in interactive process, and wrongful termination in violation of public policy.
  • African-American maintenance mechanic alleged that he had a disability and was injured on the job, for which he filed a workers’ compensation claim. His supervisor allegedly exhibited favoritism toward Latino workers, and discriminated against non-Latino workers, including plaintiff. Plaintiff claimed that his supervisor made derogatory remarks about him in Spanish and was wrongfully terminated. Plaintiff filed a claim with DFEH for wrongful termination, discrimination and harassment in violation of Government Code section 12940 for race and physical disability, failure to engage in interactive process, failure to accommodate, harassment, retaliation, violation of Labor Code section 1102.5(c), fraud and deceit, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and unfair competition in violation of Business and Professions Code section 17200.

BUSINESS / BREACH OF CONTRACT

  • Dispute regarding dissolution of a partnership of attorneys in which plaintiff attorney claimed he was not compensated for litigating large complex case while a partner at the firm. In addition, plaintiff’s complaint set forth allegations of fraud in seeking punitive damages.
  • Dispute between a headhunter and a client, wherein the headhunter alleged that it provided the client with two candidates, both of whom the client hired, although one candidate was hired for the advertised position with a different title. Headhunter alleged that the client requested to make payments over time, and that the full amount of the fees due were not paid. The client denied that any further payments were due.
  • Dispute regarding allegations of default on a promissory note.
  • Dispute regarding an employment contract with plaintiff who alleges that she was hired as president of an investment house, but the investment house misrepresented its financial condition, and reneged on its written approval of plaintiff’s continued role as an operating partner in another concern, which provided substantial funding for the investment house. Executives of the investment house terminated plaintiff after objecting to her continued role as an operating partner. Plaintiff filed an action for breach of contract, promissory estoppel, breach of implied in fact contract, failure to pay wages, negligent misrepresentation, intentional misrepresentation, and wrongful termination in violation of the public policy against gender discrimination.
  • Dispute arising out of an alleged breach of written and oral agreement for development and sale of commercial real property. Plaintiff investor brought causes of action for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, fraud, intentional deceit, and violation of Civil Code 1709, naming as defendants the developer, real estate broker, and agent seeking monetary damages. Plaintiff alleged that defendants’ fraud resulted in the failure to develop a strip mall shopping center and in the loss of his monetary investment.
  • Complaint for involuntary dissolution of limited liability company.
  • Complaint by individual investor for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, money lent, and fraud, against out of state corporate borrower. Plaintiff alleges that he advanced investment funds, and when defendant defaulted on cash repayment, defendant then attempted to renegotiate repayment to include stock in defendant’s company. Defendant did not repay the loan in cash or in stock.
  • Complaint for dissolution of partnership, expulsion of partner, accounting, conversion, breach of oral contract, breach of implied contract, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, violation of Corporations Code sections 16401, 16403, 16404, declaratory relief, and unjust enrichment.
  • A tradesman sued a competitor for violation of Civil Code section 3344 (unauthorized use of likeness), false advertising, and unfair competition under Business and Professions Code section 17200 et seq. Plaintiff and defendant worked together for years, then became competitors, and defendant allegedly continued to use plaintiff’s likeness without plaintiff’s consent. Defendant allegedly also made other misrepresentations.
  • Antique seller sold to owner of historic property paintings, sculptures, artwork, chandeliers, sconces, mirrors, tables, and chairs, over two years. The property owner returned some items, and failed to pay for other items. The antique seller filed an action for breach of contract, goods sold and delivered, account stated, open book account, and conversion.
  • Wholesale apparel merchant alleged that it provided unfinished whole goods (denim pants) to a denim wash house to fill a large order for washed denim pants. The wash house allegedly failed to return the washed denim pants in time for the merchant to fill the order, and the merchant lost the order. The merchant filed an action against the wash house for breach of contract, conversion, fraud, unjust enrichment, and unfair business practices under Business and Professions Code section 17200 et seq.
  • Tour headliner entered into oral contracts with individuals to provide tour services for warm up acts, emcee services, DJ, tour bus driver, security services, and other tour related services. Headliner allegedly did not pay for these services, and the individuals sued for breach of contract, promissory fraud, and unjust enrichment.
  • Provider of transportation, logistics, and storage services entered into a settlement agreement with a client in arrears for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The client did not fully satisfy the terms of the settlement, and the provider of transportation services filed an action for breach of contract and for quasi-contract to enforce the settlement.
  • Wholesale grocer alleged that it sold goods, wares, and merchandise to a store, which failed to pay for them in full. Wholesaler sued for open book account, account stated, the reasonable value of the goods, and attorney’s fees.
  • Hair leased space to be improved to salon’s specifications prior to holiday season in a large commercial center. The improvements were not timely completed, and large tenants in the development were allowed to block salon’s storefront and parking spaces with construction equipment, materials, fencing, storage bins and merchandise. This impaired access by appointment customers and by walk-ins. Salon filed action for breach of contract, fraud, misrepresentation, conversion, breach of the implied covenant of quiet enjoyment, negligence, and declaratory relief.
  • Nevada resident sued a California automobile manufacturer under Civil Code sections 1791.1, 1793.2, 1794 for breach of express written warranty, failure to repair, refund, breach of the implied warranty of merchantability, and breach of the Magnuson-Moss Act, 15 U.S.C. sections 2301, 2308, and 2310.
  • Purchaser of a new Ford Focus alleged that she sought repairs at least four times, yet not all defects and nonconformities were eliminated. Purchaser sued the manufacturer and the dealership for breach of implied warranty of merchantability under the Song-Beverly Act and the Magnuson-Moss Act, and for breach of express warranty under the Song-Beverly Act and the Magnuson-Moss Act.

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CIVIL RIGHTS

  • Resolved action brought by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing as plaintiff on behalf of real party in interest tenant against Defendant landlord for discrimination on the basis of disability. The Department alleged that the owner of the apartment building did not have an accommodation policy in place and by failing to provide the real party in interest tenant an in-unit washing machine, failed to allow full use and enjoyment of her apartment. Defendant owner defended on the basis that the tenant did not have adequate evidence of disability and was not willing to be responsible for the cost of putting the unit in the same condition as it was when she moved in. The matter was resolved with monetary and non-monetary terms.

CONSUMER CLASS ACTION

  • Dispute regarding allegations that telephone calls reminding debtors of the date when payments are due violated the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Act (Civil Code section 1788) and constituted unfair competition (Business and Professions Code section 17200). Defendant alleged that the telephone calls were not harassment, and merely prompted debtors to make timely payments to avoid late fees.

ELDER ABUSE

  • Complaint for elder abuse (violation of Elder Adult and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act, Welfare and Institutions Code sections 15600 et seq.), negligence, and wrongful death, against a skilled nursing facility.

EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION - DISABILITY

  • Wrongful termination allegations by long term employee of one of the largest owners of numerous automobile dealerships in the state. Employee alleged discrimination of the basis of membership in a protected class, including religion/race. Employer presented defense of at will employee status of plaintiff and lack of damages.
  • Action pending in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, Central District, Stanley Mosk Courthouse, arising from plaintiff’s claims of wrongful termination in violation of public policy and discrimination on the basis of age, race, and national origin due to allegations that the defendant, a large automobile dealership, goaled to have a sales force that consisted of persons of East Asian origin. Plaintiff allegations included claims of defendant’s attempts to hire a sales force of young people and terminate older Africa American employees. Plaintiff alleged he was not paid his full commissions and was terminated so that younger people could take his place. Defendant’s claims included statistical information indicating the plaintiff was included in a layoff of a number of employees of various ages and races as an economical, cost cutting effort. Defendant’s allegations included a defense that plaintiff failed to complain about any discriminatory treatment during his years long employment and his position carried a high compensation package, but his work could be performed by an employee at a much lower compensation. Defendant pointed to statistical evidence in support of defense of the legally valid goal of employing a multi-lingual sales force.
  • Mediation of matter pending in the Central District of the United States Federal Court alleging employee termination as a result of whistleblower activities regarding unsafe conditions to U.S. Department of Transportation and discrimination based on disability. Defense of Defendant, a large nationwide private company, was based on Plaintiff’s lack of compliance with company safety regulations. Causes of actions: 29 CFR §825.220, Cal. Labor Code §6310, Cal. Labor Code §1102.5, and Gov. Code §12940(j).
  • Employees of large, prestigious hotel claimed that they were forced to clock out and continue working during their meal break. Labor Code violations and wrongful business practices alleged section 203, 226.7, and 226 (a).
  • Plaintiff brought action against a fast food restaurant employer for termination in violation of public policy, alleging she was discriminated against on the basis of gender and disability. Plaintiff claimed that her employer failed to accommodate her pregnancy by refusing to allow her to change her graveyard shift to day. Her employer presented a defense on the basis of having a valid and reasonable business.
  • Employee alleged that he was misclassified as an exempt employee and sought damages under the Labor Code as a restaurant worker. The dispute involved claims for payment of alleged overtime.
  • Plaintiff, a sushi chef in a restaurant alleged misclassification and brought action in Superior Court for failure of defendant to pay overtime wages (Labor Code §1194), failure to provide meal and rest breaks (Labor Code §226.7 & §203), failure to keep accurate records (Labor Code §226), and unfair business practices. Defendant alleged plaintiff was an exempt employment as head sushi chef, having tremendous creative discretion in preparing sushi for his customers, and that customers relied upon his creativity in their special orders. Plaintiff countered that he prepared sushi from a set menu and did not have creative control. The parties resolved their dispute with the mediator’s assistance.
  • Dispute regarding allegations by an employee of a large public institution of disability discrimination. The employer alleged that the “injury, illness or condition” suffered by the plaintiff did not require accommodation as a matter of law.
  • An employee alleged that she complained to her employer about computers which were located in a manner which caused injury and strain to herself and to her co-workers. When she received no response, she complained to OSHA. Her employer yelled at her during a meeting for complaining, and announced that she had to go. Her work station was relocated to an undesirable location, and she was removed from the online work schedule. She requested accommodation at her new work location for her ongoing cancer treatment, but received no response. She requested being returned to her former work location, and instead, was relocated to an even less desirable location which did not provide accommodation, and her hours were reduced. She requested to transfer to a vacant and available position which would accommodate her condition, which was denied. She then repeatedly complained that she was being retaliated against and was not being accommodated. Employee sued for failure to accommodate and engage in interactive process in violation of Government Code section 12940, for disability discrimination, and retaliation in violation of Labor Code section 1102.5.
  • Employee alleged that, after spending 20 years as a laborer in the shipping department, she underwent cancer treatment, preventing her from lifting heavy loads. She alleged that she was requested to and did provide a physician's note listing her restrictions. Adequate accommodation was not provided, and the physician determined she was unable to work. After spending a year out of work on disability, she requested to return to work, but was not given her former position, nor an alternate position, accommodating her limitations. Employee sued for violations of Government Code section 12940 for disparate treatment based on disability, failure to provide reasonable accommodation, failure to engage in the interactive process, for the failure to prevent harassment, discrimination and retaliation, for retaliation, for violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (Government Code section 12945.2), and for wrongful termination, discrimination and retaliation in violation of public policy for exercising her rights.
  • Complaint for disability discrimination, failure to prevent discrimination and harassment, retaliation, failure to accommodate disability, failure to engage in interactive process, and wrongful termination in violation of public policy.
  • African-American maintenance mechanic alleged that he had a disability and was injured on the job, for which he filed a workers’ compensation claim. His supervisor allegedly exhibited favoritism toward Latino workers, and discriminated against non-Latino workers, including plaintiff. Plaintiff claimed that his supervisor made derogatory remarks about him in Spanish and was wrongfully terminated. Plaintiff filed a claim with DFEH for wrongful termination, discrimination and harassment in violation of Government Code section 12940 for race and physical disability, failure to engage in interactive process, failure to accommodate, harassment, retaliation, violation of Labor Code section 1102.5(c), fraud and deceit, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and unfair competition in violation of Business and Professions Code section 17200.
  • Nigerian public school teacher alleged that he was criticized by a new principal for his teaching methods and accent. He further alleged that, when the teacher complained that he was being discriminated against, the principal’s harassment intensified. The teacher complained to DFEH and EEOC, received a right to sue letter, and filed a complaint alleging discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in violation of Government Code section 12940, et seq., failure to prevent discrimination, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
  • Complaint for harassment/hostile work environment in violation of FEHA, discrimination in violation of FEHA, retaliation, failure to prevent harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, wrongful termination in violation of public policy, negligent hiring and supervision, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
  • Dispute alleged that sexual harassment was tolerated by management which participated in supporting an atmosphere of acceptance that male engineers were superior in their work to that of female engineers.
  • Dispute in which female employees alleged that employees of a small business were required to attend a weekly company off site meeting at a hotel bar, and that employees were encouraged to consume alcoholic beverages, which allegedly resulted in the sexual harassment of female employees by unwanted touching by and inappropriate conversations with male co-workers.
  • Dispute in which a male employee of a large public institution alleged a hostile workplace and sexual harassment by other male employees who regularly engaged in inappropriate and unwanted conversations about their sexual activities.
  • Dispute in which a public service employee alleged that she was wrongfully transferred to a less desirable work location in retaliation for refusing to submit to the sexual advances of the highest ranking employee in the unit.
  • Dispute regarding allegations of sexual harassment of a male hospital worker by other male hospital workers.
  • Dispute regarding allegations by a male nurse of sexual harassment by his female supervisor.
  • Dispute regarding sexual harassment by a female office worker who contended that she was given a drug without her consent at an office retreat, and was raped while she was under the influence of the drug.
  • Dispute regarding sexual harassment alleged by a female employee who contended that the head of her department retaliated against her by giving her undeserved poor performance reviews after she refused to have sexual relations with him.
  • Dispute regarding sexual harassment alleged by a high level public employee who contended that the head of her department tolerated a work environment in which inappropriate sexual conversations, including sexual humor and print materials, were tolerated, and that her complaint resulted in retaliation against her, and ultimately, resulted in her termination.
  • Dispute regarding a male employee who brought a wrongful termination action against his employer, alleging that his employer failed to properly investigate false allegations of sexual harassment brought against him by a female employee who was under his supervision, and that her allegations were brought in retaliation when he properly promoted a male employee instead of promoting the female employee.
  • Fifteen year old high school student alleged that she took a driver’s training behind the wheel course. She further alleged that her instructor told her to park in a secluded area where he then sexually assaulted her. The student sued the driving school for negligent hiring, retention, and supervision, negligence, and unfair business practices in violation of Business and Professions Code section 17200.
  • Employee alleged that her production manager constantly harassed her by making sexually explicit comments and gestures, showing her pornographic material on his computer, inappropriate touching, and trying to arrange to give the employee a private massage outside of work. He called her several times a day at work to talk about non-work matters and to flirt, lifted her pant legs to see her socks, and propositioned her to join him on their lunch break and in the bathroom. He asked her to send him pictures of herself, and she refused. The production manager told her that any raise she receives would be because of him, and after she continued to refuse his advances, he implied that she would be terminated. The employee continued to complain, and ultimately, a meeting was held to reprimand the production manager, attended by the entire chain of command. The ensuing turmoil in the workplace resulted in the employee being ostracized, her hours were reduced, and her schedule was changed to conflict with her child care. Due to the hostile work environment, the employee left her job. She filed an action against the production manager and her employer for unlawful harassment, failure to prevent harassment, and retaliation in violation of Government Code section 12940, constructive discharge/wrongful termination in violation of public policy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
  • A lead man for a major studio hired a female set dresser on the condition that she pay him her first month’s wages and submit to his sexual demands. The set dresser alleged that, when she started work, he reminded her of the arrangement, and she gave him two checks. The lead man threatened to terminate the set dresser unless she agreed to be his girlfriend. He regularly tried to touch and kiss her in front of his supervisor and others. Several times, he offered to pay for her personal items using studio funds, which she declined. He called her and texted her with inappropriate messages, mostly after midnight. She repeatedly asked him to stop, and advised him that she was very uncomfortable with his conduct. When she didn’t reply, he threatened to drive to her house and bust down the door. He also demanded more wages from her, threatening to terminate her. He insisted on spending the Christmas holiday with her and her family, again threatening to terminate her if she refused. He then withheld her paycheck, and did not allow her to leave work when all others left, saying she was ‘in the penalty box’. He finally terminated her, and she filed an action against him and the studio for sexual harassment by maintaining a hostile work environment, failure to prevent discrimination, wrongful termination for gender discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, and for failure to pay wages and for waiting time penalties in violation of Labor Code sections 201, 202, and 203.
  • Sworn law enforcement officer alleged in her complaint that she was reassigned from her position involving hazardous materials when she became pregnant. The officer alleged that she did not request the reassignment, and when she returned to work after her pregnancy, she was not reassigned to the hazardous materials position. She met with Human Resources, where she was advised to ‘ask nicely’ for her former position. When that didn’t work, she filed a grievance for violation of the Family and Maternal Leave Act because she was not returned to her former position. Her grievance was granted, and she alleged she was discriminated against for having filed a grievance. She was instructed to stop carpooling with, working out with, and having lunch with the fellow officer who was her union representative during the grievance. Their work schedules were changed to prevent them from carpooling. Her complaints were deemed unfounded by Internal Affairs. She filed an action for FEHA violations of Government Code section 12940 for gender discrimination, retaliation, and failure to prevent discrimination and retaliation.
  • Female patrol officer alleged that she was one of six female officers in a 95 police officer force. She alleged that women were not hired, were not allowed to pass probation, were unfairly scrutinized, were written up for petty offenses for which the male officers were not written up, were not offered promotional opportunities, and were not promoted. Plaintiff had served for seven years, and was the last female to be hired and complete probation. She was replaced in a forensics position by a male officer, and was not allowed to work as a detective, use her forensic expertise, or train officers in forensics. She obtained a right to sue letter from the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and filed an action against her employer for gender discrimination and retaliation under Government Code sections 12940 et seq.
  • Plaintiff was a veterinarian who worked for an animal hospital, and when hired, was a male with a female gender identity/gender expression. Over the course of plaintiff’s sixteen year tenure with the animal hospital, plaintiff gradually and more frequently revealed gender identity at work by dressing as a female, growing long hair, wearing make-up, and other expressions of dress. After work, plaintiff more fully expressed the female gender identity. A co-worker saw plaintiff after work when dressed as a woman, and the next day at work, plaintiff saw a computer background containing a monkey wearing a dress. Plaintiff learned that the gender identity was widely known at work, and plaintiff started receiving the silent treatment. Plaintiff’s supervisor told plaintiff that plaintiff could not wear female clothes or accessories. These restrictions were not placed on other women working there. Plaintiff formally changed her name and gender to match her identity. Plaintiff was treated differently, the job security was threatened, and plaintiff was ultimately terminated due to the expression of gender identity. Plaintiff filed an action for discrimination, harassment and creation of a hostile work environment, wrongful termination in violation of public policy, and failure to prevent discrimination, in violation of Government Code section 12940.
  • Dispute regarding allegations by an employee of a large public institution of disability discrimination. The employer alleged that the “injury, illness or condition” suffered by the plaintiff did not require accommodation as a matter of law.

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ENTERTAINMENT

  • Dispute regarding allegations of a default on a promissory note executed by an entertainment company containing a personal guarantee in favor of a member of a family trust.
  • Multi-platform media and production company alleged that it produced a film, and granted distribution rights to defendant within a specified territory within several major markets for a specified period of time. The producer alleged that defendant was responsible for collecting revenues and paying the producer a percentage thereof, that the agreement between the parties also required defendant to pay him an advance for separate packaged media rights in connection with the theatrical release of the film, and that defendant was required to launch the theatrical release in a specified number of theaters. The producer further alleged that defendant did not remit full payment to the production company, did not adhere to its confidentiality obligations, or provide an accounting. The production company filed an action for breach of contract, accounting, and conversion.
  • Writer/producer and his loan out company alleged that they entered into a contract to provide writing services and executive producing services, in exchange for fixed payments and an executive producing credit. They further alleged that production on the film commenced, triggering the payments due, but the payments due were not made. Plaintiffs filed an action for breach of contract, and defendants denied that any additional payments were due.
  • Plaintiff alleged that defendant production company acquired the media rights to a book series, and assigned the rights to two related defendant production companies. Plaintiff further alleged that one of the related production companies entered into a distribution deal for television episodes based on the book series, that plaintiff and defendants entered into an agreement for plaintiff to fund production of the television episodes, and that the agreement required defendants to assign all rights to the book series to a related company, in which plaintiff and defendants each had a substantial membership interest. The agreement allegedly conferred on plaintiff decision making authority over any decisions having to do with financing, credits, and other issues, requiring plaintiff’s written approval. Plaintiff alleged that defendants did not assign the rights as required by the agreement, and that defendants entered into a distribution deal for a second season without plaintiff’s written approval. Plaintiff filed an action for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and declaratory relief. Defendants alleged in a cross-complaint against plaintiff and its principals that they failed to execute all of the documents necessary for production, and failed to adequately fund the production. The cross-complaint alleged causes of action for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and breach of fiduciary duty.

FRANCHISE AGREEMENTS

  • Disputes surrounding encroachment claims in which franchisees brought claims that a franchisor had allowed saturation of the market by authorizing additional businesses to operate within the areas where the franchisee expected to have exclusivity.
  • Disputes surrounding franchisees who claimed that the earnings expected and/or represented to them did not satisfy the promises relied upon by the investor.
  • Disputes arising from alleged differences between the provisions of the franchise agreement and representations made by salespeople on the earnings potential of the investment.
  • Disputes involving the earnings potential which required review of the “type and nature” of representations, and required determination of the relevancy of the California Franchise Investors Law and the related regulations.
  • Disputes involving claimed misrepresentations and fraud regarding the earnings potential, encroaching exclusivity, and the interaction between the franchise agreement, the parole evidence rule, integration clauses, and the “no promises made” clause.
  • Disputes alleging that the franchisee failed to comply with provisions of the franchise agreement on the exclusive use of the franchisor’s trademark.
  • Disputes involving “covenant not to compete” issues and territorial encroachment.
  • Claims that a franchisee was estopped from making claims based on underperforming earnings when the franchise agreement specified that no representations concerning earnings were in the franchise agreement.
  • Disputes involving alleged misrepresentations of franchisee anticipated earnings made by persons who the franchisor alleged did not have authority to make such claims.
  • Disputes regarding whether the franchisee reasonably relied on representations in the offering circular, and whether the franchisor duly limited the authority of its agent to make representations.
  • Disputes claiming “promissory fraud” requiring the Court to make legal determinations.
  • Disputes based on the California Franchise Investment Law and its effect on other civil remedies, such as rescission, and based on provisions allowing the franchisor to negate “exclusive territory” provisions by placing new outlets near a franchisee’s business.
  • Disputes involving the application of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing when the franchisee claims that the franchisor cannot take actions having a substantial negative effect on the franchisee’s business.
  • Disputes in which the franchisee claimed that placing a new franchise within 3 miles of its business was a violation of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing when the franchise agreement was silent on exclusivity.
  • Disputed territorial rights relating to establishing distribution channels favoring new franchisees.
  • Claim by franchisee that a new marketing system violated the covenant of good faith and fair dealing by favoring new franchisees, even though the franchise agreement was silent regarding the issue.
  • Dispute in which a franchisee claimed it was within its rights under the franchise agreement to seek internet sales, and franchisor claimed that the agreement limited sales to certain enumerated locations.
  • Dispute involving the post-term non-compete clause and determination of the nature of the post-term business in relation to the in-term business and the franchise agreement.
  • Dispute requiring determination of the nature of the non-compete in-term clause when only the delivery service of the business was the subject of the franchisor’s objection.
  • Franchisor objected to a franchisee’s pricing practices, and the franchisee’s cross-complaint alleged that the franchisee’s advertising contribution resulted in a positive impact on a competing outlet, and thus was a violation of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
  • Matter in which a franchisor and franchisee were named as co-defendants in an action for vicarious liability, and were alleged to be joint employers.
  • Matter in which a franchisor sought to terminate a franchise agreement, alleging that the franchisee violated the “obey all laws” provision when the franchisee was alleged to have failed to comply with wage and hour laws.
  • Franchisor alleged that a franchisee failed to comply with operational standards, after the franchisee received notice of its failure to comply with practice goals, and after the franchisee agreed in an additional post-agreement contract to educate its employees on the operational standards.
  • Franchisor alleged non-payment of ongoing franchise fees and royalties. Franchisee claimed that rising advertising fees imposed by the franchisor were not clearly articulated in the franchise agreement, and claimed there was mismanagement of the advertising funds.
  • Complaint alleged that a franchisee did not promptly de-identify its business upon the conclusion of the franchise agreement, and improperly used the franchisor’s trademark as a holdover franchisee. The complaint sought a court order to rectify the situation.
  • Franchisee alleged fraud in an action for wrongful termination when the franchisee expected its franchise agreement to be renewed, and expected to be able to continue operating its business. The franchisee disputed the franchisor’s claim that it had “good cause” for termination of the agreement, claimed that the renewal was unreasonably denied, and claimed that it was unreasonably denied its right of first refusal. Franchisee claimed it did not get the training and support to which it was entitled, and thus, its business did not do well.
  • Dispute regarding the ability to transfer and assign a franchise agreement.
  • Dispute regarding franchisee’s claim that computation of future royalties was not reasonable, and was speculative, conjectural, and fraudulent.

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GENDER DISCRIMINATION

  • Complaint for harassment/hostile work environment in violation of FEHA, discrimination in violation of FEHA, retaliation, failure to prevent harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, wrongful termination in violation of public policy, negligent hiring and supervision, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
  • Sworn law enforcement officer alleged in her complaint that she was reassigned from her position involving hazardous materials when she became pregnant. The officer alleged that she did not request the reassignment, and when she returned to work after her pregnancy, she was not reassigned to the hazardous materials position. She met with Human Resources, where she was advised to ‘ask nicely’ for her former position. When that didn’t work, she filed a grievance for violation of the Family and Maternal Leave Act because she was not returned to her former position. Her grievance was granted, and she alleged she was discriminated against for having filed a grievance. She was instructed to stop carpooling with, working out with, and having lunch with the fellow officer who was her union representative during the grievance. Their work schedules were changed to prevent them from carpooling. Her complaints were deemed unfounded by Internal Affairs. She filed an action for FEHA violations of Government Code section 12940 for gender discrimination, retaliation, and failure to prevent discrimination and retaliation.
  • Female patrol officer alleged that she was one of six female officers in a 95 police officer force. She alleged that women were not hired, were not allowed to pass probation, were unfairly scrutinized, were written up for petty offenses for which the male officers were not written up, were not offered promotional opportunities, and were not promoted. Plaintiff had served for seven years, and was the last female to be hired and complete probation. She was replaced in a forensics position by a male officer, and was not allowed to work as a detective, use her forensic expertise, or train officers in forensics. She obtained a right to sue letter from the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and filed an action against her employer for gender discrimination and retaliation under Government Code sections 12940 et seq.
  • Plaintiff was a veterinarian who worked for an animal hospital, and when hired, was a male with a female gender identity/gender expression. Over the course of plaintiff’s sixteen year tenure with the animal hospital, plaintiff gradually and more frequently revealed gender identity at work by dressing as a female, growing long hair, wearing make-up, and other expressions of dress. After work, plaintiff more fully expressed the female gender identity. A co-worker saw plaintiff after work when dressed as a woman, and the next day at work, plaintiff saw a computer background containing a monkey wearing a dress. Plaintiff learned that the gender identity was widely known at work, and plaintiff started receiving the silent treatment. Plaintiff’s supervisor told plaintiff that plaintiff could not wear female clothes or accessories. These restrictions were not placed on other women working there. Plaintiff formally changed her name and gender to match her identity. Plaintiff was treated differently, the job security was threatened, and plaintiff was ultimately terminated due to the expression of gender identity. Plaintiff filed an action for discrimination, harassment and creation of a hostile work environment, wrongful termination in violation of public policy, and failure to prevent discrimination, in violation of Government Code section 12940.

HARASSMENT / HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT

  • Nigerian public school teacher alleged that he was criticized by a new principal for his teaching methods and accent. He further alleged that, when the teacher complained that he was being discriminated against, the principal’s harassment intensified. The teacher complained to DFEH and EEOC, received a right to sue letter, and filed a complaint alleging discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in violation of Government Code section 12940, et seq., failure to prevent discrimination, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
  • Complaint for harassment/hostile work environment in violation of FEHA, discrimination in violation of FEHA, retaliation, failure to prevent harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, wrongful termination in violation of public policy, negligent hiring and supervision, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

INSURANCE AND BAD FAITH

  • Successful mediation of a matter pending in a direct calendar unlimited jurisdiction court in the Stanley Mosk Central Civil Courthouse in Downtown Los Angeles. Plaintiffs were the owners of a large commercial multi-story retail property on a busy, major street in Los Angeles. Defendants were one of the largest commercial property insurance companies, a broker working and licensed to work as an insurance agent, and one of the largest insurance services in the world, alleged to have an agency relationship with the broker of insurance. Plaintiffs brought this action against the insurance company that insured their commercial property and against the broker that sold them the policy and the individual broker’s employer as agents of the insurance company. Plaintiffs alleged that they notified their broker that the property was vacant since a tenant was renovating in preparation of a sub-tenancy, but were denied the benefit of their insurance policy as it contained an exclusion for damage sustained after 60 days of continuous vacancy. Plaintiffs’ claim for damage as a result of vandalism was denied under the vacancy provision prompting this claim against defendant insurance company, company that sold the insurance, and the individual broker of insurance and employee of brokerage company. The complaint included causes of action for the breach of implied covenant of good faith dealing, breach of contractual duty to pay a covered claim, professional negligence, and included a prayer for punitive damages as a result of the alleged bad faith actions of the large commercial insurer. The issues involved the contractual provisions regarding coverage including vacancy exclusions and renovation exceptions. Factual allegations regarding tenancy and sub-tenancy including the lack of a subrogation claim were part of the discussions. The matter settled with the financial participation of all defendants except the individual broker.
  • Dispute between lessee of Bentley Continental automobile, valet company, owners of a Camry automobile, passenger of the Camry automobile, and insurance company. Lessee of the Bentley gave her car to valet driver and returned from dinner at a Beverly Hills restaurant to find the passenger of the Camry had opened a car door on the traffic side to cause damage to the Bentley. Valet driver and company asserted the passenger of car who opened the door into the Bentley was negligent. Lessee of the Bentley asserted valet company was responsible primarily and the insurance company that paid to repair the Bentley brought subrogation action against the owner of the Camry with the passenger that opened the door negligently into the Bentley. Plaintiff brought diminution of value claim and loss of use claim. Defendants asserted Plaintiff was not entitled to diminution of value since she was not an owner, but a lessee. Expert for Defendants claimed Plaintiff’s claim for loss of use was excessive, despite the fact that the Bentley was a unique automobile with a unique color scheme only found in two Bentleys imported to the U.S.
  • Dispute regarding insurer’s denial of a claim because the insured failed to provide the requisite documentation of amounts paid for the inventory that was lost in the robbery.
  • Dispute regarding insurer’s denial of a claim for damages to real property caused by a fallen tree.
  • Dispute regarding allegations of bad faith by an insurer which did not pay policy limits for personal injuries from a freeway accident.
  • Dispute regarding allocation of attorney’s fees and costs from litigation between three insurance carriers.
  • Homeowner’s insurance subrogation action was brought by an insurance carrier against the parents of a minor who allegedly left hot oil on a stovetop and caused a house fire.

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LANDLORD / TENANT

  • Dispute regarding the landlord’s alleged policy against renting to tenants who were receiving housing subsidies and government aid.
  • Dispute between owner/manager-in residence of real property and a long term tenant, wherein the tenant alleged that the breach of warranty of habitability led to constructive eviction. Complaint also alleged negligence, negligent maintenance of premises, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
  • Lessee of space in a building defaulted on lease payments. Guarantor of the lease entered into a settlement with the building owner. Guarantor defaulted on settlement payments. Building owner filed action against guarantor to enforce the settlement terms which granted to building owner to the full amount due in the event of default, plus attorney’s fees and costs.
  • A long term commercial tenant allegedly was five months behind in rent payments. Lessor filed an unlawful detainer action.

PARTNERSHIP DISSOLUTION

  • Complaint for dissolution of partnership, expulsion of partner, accounting, conversion, breach of oral contract, breach of implied contract, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, violation of Corporations Code sections 16401, 16403, 16404, declaratory relief, and unjust enrichment.
  • The complaint alleged that one of three medical doctors in a partnership unilaterally listed the building for sale and announced that she would operate her medical practice separate from the partnership, while still remaining in the partnership. The separating doctor also allegedly announced that she would use the services of and supervise four employees who were harassed by the other two doctors. She allegedly implemented a telephone service separate from the partnership for her patients, implemented a separate appointment sign in on the front desk, and provided new business cards with her name, omitting the name of the partnership, which were available on the front desk. She also assigned four treatment rooms for her exclusive use. The listing was taken down, and the three doctors were unable to re-negotiate the partnership agreement. Two doctors sued the third doctor for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, conversion, imposition of constructive trust, and injunctive relief.

PERSONAL INJURY / WRONGFUL DEATH

  • Plaintiff was returning his rented car at LAX Airport and was pinned between two cars when getting luggage out of the trunk, and a rental company employee moved the car in reverse. Plaintiff had a prior injury to the same knee injured in this accident. Defendant car rental company disputed the extent of the injury. Matter resolved.
  • Action by Plaintiff alleging injury as a result of collision with fire department emergency vehicle. Complicated issues include:
    o Fire department policy and compliance of requirements regarding lights and sirens on emergency calls
    o Driver’s duty to comply with Vehicle Code in evasive measures
    o Medical expenses of half a million dollars alleged by egg shell plaintiff
    o Force of impact
    o Report of investigating law enforcement agency as to fault
  • Matter involving an automobile accident in which plaintiff was broadsided as he drove through a large intersection and as a result rolled over three times. Plaintiff and Defendant each claimed to have had a green light, claiming the other’s was a red light.
  • Successful mediation of a case pending in an unlimited jurisdiction trial court in the Los Angeles Superior Court, Stanley Mosk Courthouse. Plaintiffs brought an action alleging they suffered personal injury as a result of being involved in an automobile vs. automobile collision. Liability and the extent of damages were disputed by the defendant driver who was making a left turn. Defendant argued that plaintiffs were in the vehicle that was being driven at a high rate of speed by one of the three plaintiffs in the automobile. Injuries were alleged to be significant, including evidence of the defendant’s independent medical examiner’s opinion that one of the plaintiffs required joint replacement surgery. Defendant presented defense that plaintiffs failed to mitigate their damages. The entire matter settled in the mediation.
  • Dispute involving plaintiff’s allegations that, as a result of false accusations of misconduct and harassment, he sustained damages from defamation, intentional interference with contractual relations, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, negligent interference with prospective economic advantage, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
  • Dispute regarding the extent of damages in a matter wherein the government agency stipulated to liability for a traffic accident involving its employee. Plaintiff alleged that her injuries included a tear of the triangular fibrocortilage complex at the prestyloid recess to her dominant wrist, a 5 mm disc protrusion at L4-L5 with an annular tear, and a 6 mm disc protrusion at L5-S1 with an annular tear. Plaintiff alleged that she was permanently prevented from working in her occupation of 20 years that required extensive use of her hands, arms, and wrist. Defendant disputed the permanent nature of her injuries, and alleged that the limitations from her injuries were not permanently catastrophic.
  • Dispute regarding allegations of wrongful death of family member against physician who had performed weight reduction surgery on deceased.
  • Dispute regarding allegations of wrongful death by wife and minor children of construction worker against public entity for death at a construction site on public property.
  • Dispute alleging dependent care abuse and wrongful death by family members against assisted living facility.
  • Dispute regarding allegations of wrongful death by parents of minor child against hospital, alleging failure to properly diagnose, resulting in death.
  • Dispute regarding allegations of wrongful death by parents of child against physician and hospital after the child was brought in for emergency treatment three times in 72 hours.
  • Dispute regarding allegations of wrongful death by spouse and children of supermarket shopper who reached for an item on the top shelf of a sales rack, and suffered a fatal head injury.
  • Dispute regarding allegations of wrongful death and products liability brought by the family of a construction worker against the manufacturer of a nail gun, alleging that the absence of a safety on the trigger resulted in the fatal accidental firing of a nail into the deceased at a construction site.
  • Dispute regarding wrongful death of a dependent adult by the family of resident in assisted living facility, alleging failure to properly monitor at mealtime, resulting in fatal injury from choking on food.
  • Dispute regarding allegations of wrongful death brought by family members against driver and owner of vehicle, in which the deceased was a passenger who suffered a fatal injury in an accident wherein the driver was subsequently arrested for driving under the influence.
  • Dispute regarding allegations of wrongful death by the family of a shopper who slipped when using an escalator in a shopping mall, and who sustained a fatal head injury.
  • Dispute regarding allegations of wrongful death against the driver of an automobile that struck a bicycle rider, who sustained a fatal injury as a result of the collision.
  • Dispute regarding allegations of wrongful death of wife, mother, and minor child, who sustained fatal injuries when they were crossing the street and were struck by a car, the driver of which was thereafter arrested for reckless driving and for driving at an excessive rate of speed.
  • Assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress arising from dispute at a deposition. Cross-complaint for assault, battery, and negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiff represented defendant at a deposition, and defendant attacked plaintiff during a break.

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PRODUCT LIABILITY / LEMON LAW

  • Matter arising from an action filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court by plaintiff alleging violations of the Song-Beverly Act and fraudulent inducement and concealment by automobile manufacturer and distributor in selling the plaintiff a new automobile that was alleged to be defective as evidenced by a nationwide recall of the automobile. Plaintiff alleged the manufacturer/distributor was aware of a serious defect in the automobile years prior to the sale to plaintiff, did not disclose the defect to plaintiff at the time of sale, and did not follow through on warranty obligations to repair the defect without cost to plaintiff. Defendant denied plaintiff’s allegations, pointing to the high mileage of the automobile when sold.
  • Matter arising from action filed in the Riverside Superior Court. Plaintiff’s action included allegations that his car was defective as evidenced by the high number of days required for repairs. Plaintiff alleged the vehicle should have been repurchased by the manufacturer/distributor upon request made after plaintiff had been subjected to a high number of days the car had been in for repairs to address the same problems. Defendant alleged the repairs were not unduly numerous and satisfactorily and promptly taken care of.

REAL ESTATE

  • Dispute regarding allegations by a homeowner who claimed that a neighbor gave no notice of when the neighbor’s excavation would begin, no notice of the depth of the excavation, and no notice of the manner in which the excavation would be performed. The homeowner alleged that his home and property were damaged as a result of the excavation.
  • Dispute raised by easement holder alleging that the property owner committed trespass and maintained a nuisance, and asserting that the easement holder was entitled to a prescriptive easement.
  • Dispute regarding calculation of the standard commercial retail lease common area maintenance (CAM) payments, and payment of additional charges. Lessor alleged that the tenant agreed to pay annual lease payment increases, property tax, insurance, operations, maintenance, and repairs. The tenant experienced difficulties with a sub-tenant, a portion of which difficulties the tenant attributed to the lessor.
  • Dispute regarding abandonment of leased premises by tenant, who, during the term of the lease, turned off the utilities, vacated the premises, stopped making payments, and turned over the keys to the lessor. The tenant accused the lessor of constructive eviction and fraud.
  • Dispute in which the purchaser of a residence alleged that the seller failed to disclose prior structural damage to the residence.
  • Dispute regarding allegations of a homeowner that his neighbor failed to exercise reasonable care in excavating adjacent property, deprived the homeowner’s property of lateral support, and caused land subsidence, thereby damaging the property and the home thereon.
  • Dispute regarding commercial lease when tenant sub-let a portion of the premises without the lessor’s written approval as required by the lease.

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REAL PROPERTY

  • Dispute arising out of an alleged breach of written and oral agreement for development and sale of commercial real property. Plaintiff investor brought causes of action for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, fraud, intentional deceit, and violation of Civil Code 1709, naming as defendants the developer, real estate broker, and agent seeking monetary damages. Plaintiff alleged that defendants’ fraud resulted in the failure to develop a strip mall shopping center and in the loss of his monetary investment.
  • Agency filed a condemnation action to acquire a building occupied by commercial tenants, to condemn any leaseholds, and to acquire easements for construction and access. The acquisition was for a major metropolitan transit project to construct a dual track light rail system to extend rail line to the airport. The Final Order in Condemnation was for the fair market value of the property, severance damages, loss of business goodwill, relocation, fixtures, equipment, and inventory.
  • Purchaser of a primary residence alleged he was unable to secure a purchase loan, and instead, financed the purchase through a loan obtained by the purchaser’s cousin and a long-time friend. These borrowers were included as joint tenants on the grant deed. Purchaser alleged that he made all necessary payments for the down payment, the loan, insurance, and property taxes. Two years later, the borrowers filed an unlawful detainer action against the purchaser. The purchaser filed an action for quiet title, reformation for fraud, breach of oral contract, promissory estoppel, unjust enrichment, and imposition of constructive trust.
  • Property owner filed action against individuals, lenders, and others who were involved in recording the allegedly fraudulent Notice of Default and Notice of Sale in a non-judicial foreclosure, and who engaged in an enterprise to defraud the property owner. The action was for violation of the Homeowner Bill of Rights, violation of Civil Code section 2923.5, lack of standing to foreclose, injunctive relief, constructive fraud, slander of title, quiet title, declaratory relief, unfair business practices under Business and Professions Code sections 17200 et seq., negligence, and fraud in the inducement.
  • The beneficiary of trust deed filed an action to foreclose on an unimproved parcel.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT

  • Dispute alleged that sexual harassment was tolerated by management which participated in supporting an atmosphere of acceptance that male engineers were superior in their work to that of female engineers.
  • Dispute in which female employees alleged that employees of a small business were required to attend a weekly company off site meeting at a hotel bar, and that employees were encouraged to consume alcoholic beverages, which allegedly resulted in the sexual harassment of female employees by unwanted touching by and inappropriate conversations with male co-workers.
  • Dispute in which a male employee of a large public institution alleged a hostile workplace and sexual harassment by other male employees who regularly engaged in inappropriate and unwanted conversations about their sexual activities.
  • Dispute in which a public service employee alleged that she was wrongfully transferred to a less desirable work location in retaliation for refusing to submit to the sexual advances of the highest ranking employee in the unit.
  • Dispute regarding allegations of sexual harassment of a male hospital worker by other male hospital workers.
  • Dispute regarding allegations by a male nurse of sexual harassment by his female supervisor.
  • Dispute regarding sexual harassment by a female office worker who contended that she was given a drug without her consent at an office retreat, and was raped while she was under the influence of the drug.
  • Dispute regarding sexual harassment alleged by a female employee who contended that the head of her department retaliated against her by giving her undeserved poor performance reviews after she refused to have sexual relations with him.
  • Dispute regarding sexual harassment alleged by a high level public employee who contended that the head of her department tolerated a work environment in which inappropriate sexual conversations, including sexual humor and print materials, were tolerated, and that her complaint resulted in retaliation against her, and ultimately, resulted in her termination.
  • Dispute regarding a male employee who brought a wrongful termination action against his employer, alleging that his employer failed to properly investigate false allegations of sexual harassment brought against him by a female employee who was under his supervision, and that her allegations were brought in retaliation when he properly promoted a male employee instead of promoting the female employee.
  • Fifteen year old high school student alleged that she took a driver’s training behind the wheel course. She further alleged that her instructor told her to park in a secluded area where he then sexually assaulted her. The student sued the driving school for negligent hiring, retention, and supervision, negligence, and unfair business practices in violation of Business and Professions Code section 17200.
  • Employee alleged that her production manager constantly harassed her by making sexually explicit comments and gestures, showing her pornographic material on his computer, inappropriate touching, and trying to arrange to give the employee a private massage outside of work. He called her several times a day at work to talk about non-work matters and to flirt, lifted her pant legs to see her socks, and propositioned her to join him on their lunch break and in the bathroom. He asked her to send him pictures of herself, and she refused.

    The production manager told her that any raise she receives would be because of him, and after she continued to refuse his advances, he implied that she would be terminated. The employee continued to complain, and ultimately, a meeting was held to reprimand the production manager, attended by the entire chain of command. The ensuing turmoil in the workplace resulted in the employee being ostracized, her hours were reduced, and her schedule was changed to conflict with her child care. Due to the hostile work environment, the employee left her job. She filed an action against the production manager and her employer for unlawful harassment, failure to prevent harassment, and retaliation in violation of Government Code section 12940, constructive discharge/wrongful termination in violation of public policy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
  • A lead man for a major studio hired a female set dresser on the condition that she pay him her first month’s wages and submit to his sexual demands. The set dresser alleged that, when she started work, he reminded her of the arrangement, and she gave him two checks. The lead man threatened to terminate the set dresser unless she agreed to be his girlfriend. He regularly tried to touch and kiss her in front of his supervisor and others. Several times, he offered to pay for her personal items using studio funds, which she declined. He called her and texted her with inappropriate messages, mostly after midnight. She repeatedly asked him to stop, and advised him that she was very uncomfortable with his conduct. When she didn’t reply, he threatened to drive to her house and bust down the door.

    He also demanded more wages from her, threatening to terminate her. He insisted on spending the Christmas holiday with her and her family, again threatening to terminate her if she refused. He then withheld her paycheck, and did not allow her to leave work when all others left, saying she was ‘in the penalty box’. He finally terminated her, and she filed an action against him and the studio for sexual harassment by maintaining a hostile work environment, failure to prevent discrimination, wrongful termination for gender discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, and for failure to pay wages and for waiting time penalties in violation of Labor Code sections 201, 202, and 203.

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