Last week it was announced that Carney Shegerian of Shegerian & Associates, Inc., a Santa Monica-based litigation law firm specializing in employee rights, obtained a wrongful termination jury verdict for his client, April Rodriguez. Rodriguez was awarded $16.5 million in punitive damages on Friday by a Los Angeles jury that found her former employer discriminated against her because of a mental disability and wrongfully fired her, bringing her total award to $21.7 million. (Case #: BC473793)
This is the largest employment related award of its kind in Los Angeles legal history.
The Los Angeles Superior Court jury reached an 11-1 decision in the punitive damages portion of Rodriguez’s lawsuit against City of Industry-based Valley Vista Services Inc. and its parent company, Zerep Management Corp. Earlier in the week last week, the same jury had awarded the 34-year-old Rancho Cucamonga woman $5.2 million in compensatory damages. The jury also found that the companies, owned by former Industry Mayor David Perez and his brother, Manuel Perez, acted with malice.
The mother of four credited the work of the jury and her attorneys for helping her win the case: “Most of all,” she said, “I would love to thank my lawyers Carney Shegerian and Bruce Kokozian. If it wasn’t for the hard work that they put into my case, I would have never gotten justice. Because of them, my story was heard.”
Shegerian and Kokozian maintained the waste disposal company, where Rodriguez worked as a customer service representative, failed to help her with her condition — by not granting her leave time and other accommodations. The mother of four testified she suffered from panic attacks – met with skepticism by her supervisor – and was fired as a result, causing her extreme financial hardship.
She said she hopes her case brings public attention to the fact that panic attacks are a genuine mental disability and employers should treat workers fairly and without discrimination.
“It’s been an honor to have had the opportunity to represent Ms. Rodriguez,” said Shegerian. “Hopefully this verdict and the justice served in Ms. Rodriguez’s case will put employers on notice that they cannot discriminate against employees who suffer from health or mental health conditions.”
An experienced trial attorney, Shegerian has tried many jury trials to verdict in both state and federal court, representing individuals that have suffered financial or emotional losses and have been wronged by employers, including major corporations. Shegerian has built a remarkable career on helping those who have been wronged in the workplace. He remains undefeated in federal jury trials and has won over 62 jury trials, including 24 seven figure verdicts representing employees.
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