The prestigious award was given to Chris and Anne at a gala dinner in San Francisco on April 6, 2017. Each year the Board of Directors of the SFTLA honors an attorney or team of attorneys who achieved an exceptional trial victory for their clients. The factors used to select the awardees include the size of verdict, stakes in controversy, diligence and determination shown by counsel, and the rights and interests of society that were vindicated through the verdict.
The case for which Chris and Anne were recognized was the whistleblower and wrongful termination lawsuit of Williams v. Wyndham Vacation Ownership. Patricia Williams, a time share sale representative for Wyndham, was fired after protesting sales practices which were elder financial abuse. The case took over 5 years to get to trial and lasted a month. Anne, a former associate at the Dolan Law Firm who started her own solo law practice, asked Chris to co-counsel and try the case with her.
Williams brought two causes of action: (1) wrongful termination in violation of public policy and (2) violation of California Labor Code section 1102.5 (provides that an employer may not retaliate against an employee for disclosing information where the employee has reasonable cause to believe that the information discloses a violation of state or federal law). The jury found in favor of Williams on both causes of action and returned a verdict for $19,999,999.76.
Commenting on the award, Chris Dolan stated,
I’m so honored to have received the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association Trial Lawyer of the Year Award with my co-counsel and dear friend Anne Costin. We took on and took down the world’s largest, multi-billion dollar timeshare corporation, Wyndham. Anne worked with me from the time she was a law student until she started her firm Costin Law three years ago. Since then Anne has been trying, and winning, difficult employment cases. This whistleblower case showed that Trish Williams was fired for reporting fraud on the elderly. Its impact reaches farther because Anne fought to have all the documents Wyndham claimed were confidential published in the public record.
An interesting part of the $19,999,999.76 verdict was the 24 cents which we were short of 20 million. The jury forewoman said that each of the jurors put their 2 cents into the deliberations so they took them back at the end: hence the 24 cents. Together Anne and I were better than if either of us had tried the case alone. Such an honor to work with Anne, once a student working with me in my office as an associate to now, as owner of her own firm, co-counsel and Trial Lawyer of the Year!
The Williams case constituted the fifth nomination and second Trial Lawyer of the Year win for Chris and the first nomination and first win for Anne.
We congratulate the other attorneys named as finalists for the Trial Lawyer of the Year award. We are honored to be part of a community of advocates passionately dedicated to advancing the interests of our clients and champions of justice.