Marcisz v. Ultrastar

2005: In Marcisz v. Ultrastar – Before the Suresh Shah sexual harassment case, in a sexual harassment case against UltraStar Cinemas (Movie Theater Entertainment Group) a San Diego jury awarded our clients $6,000,000 (six million dollars) in punitive damages in addition to $850,000 in compensatory damages. UltraStar had knowingly allowed two of its male managers, ages 32 and 22 respectively, to sexually harass the teenage plaintiffs. Some of the harassment included assault, the brandishing of knives, and the use of police restraint holds on the teenage girls. At the time of the harassment, the four plaintiffs were minimum wage workers between the ages of 16 and 17 in their first jobs. After the verdicts were rendered, the trial court ordered a new trial, on the grounds that the awards were too much money.

April 30, 2008: the California Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s decision taking away the emotional distress damages verdict in favor of four teenager girls, reinstating the verdicts as to these amounts. To review the Court of Appeal’s (unpublished) decision overturning the trial court’s decision, in part, click here. The case was also the subject of the very first PBS NOW television special, which takes an in-depth look at issues facing women in the workplace.

Gober v. Ralphs Grocery Company Sexual Harassment Case

2002: Before the Ultrastar case, a San Diego jury rendered a $30.6 Million to six clients in another sexual harassment case, Gober v. Ralphs Grocery Company.

The women’s store director had harassed them for years, while their employer, Ralphs Grocery Company, a subsidiary of grocery giant Kroger, knowingly allowed the sexual harassment to continue.  The $30 million sexual harassment jury verdict was the focus of nationwide media attention, resulting in a featured segment on ABC Primetime and covered in a Los Angeles Times article on workplace sexual harassment.

The case was appealed by both sides, resulting in a published opinion by the Court of Appeal. After Ralphs petitioned to the California Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal issued a second opinion.

Click here to read the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division One’s first opinion in Gober v. Ralphs Grocery Company regarding sexual harassment and punitive damages and the order modifying the decision (in Adobe portable document format–for a free copy of Adobe Reader, visit Adobe).

Click here to read the Court of Appeal’s second opinion dealing with motions for new trial and JNOV, sexual harassment and punitive damages and the order modifying it.

Click here to read the most recent opinion dealing with punitive damages in sexual harassment cases, review of punitive damages awards by way of motion for JNOV and motions for new trial.