We are pleased to report that the verdict in Williams v. Wyndham Vacation Ownership ranks as the top verdict by VerdictSearch for an individual employment action in California in 2016. The case also ranks as the fourth largest verdict in any employment case (class action or individual suit) in the U.S. in 2016.
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 Costin, a former associate at the Dolan Law Firm who began her legal career at our firm before starting a solo law practice three years ago, asked Chris Dolan 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.
Why was the verdict 24 cents less than $20 million? The jury forewoman said each of the jurors put their 2 cents into the deliberations so they took them back at the end.
VerdictSearch, the nation’s leading provider of verdict and settlement research, annually tabulates the Top 100 verdicts in the U.S. for the previous year. The results are published at the end of April in the National Law Journal.
In the screen shot below of largest verdicts in employment cases in the U.S. in 2016, the first verdict listed came in a class action lawsuit involving thousands of class members. The remaining three cases, including Williams, were individual wrongful termination employment law cases.