Stay Classy San Diego

Fighting Lawsuit Abuse Silly Lawsuits

A San Diego federal grand jury recently awarded $185 million in punitive damages against AutoZone Stores after finding that the company retaliated against a pregnant manager, eventually demoting her and then firing her.

The jury also awarded Rosario Juarez $872,000 in compensatory damages for lost wages and emotional stress. This is believed to be the largest employment law verdict for an individual in U.S. history.

Discrimination of any kind must not be tolerated in the workplace, but the size of the punitive damages awarded in this case demonstrates one of the reasons why California has been named a “Judicial Hellhole” two years running.

Legal experts expect this amount to be significantly reduced. Still, when businesses thinking about locating or expanding operations see California juries deliver these types of verdicts, it must make them think twice about that decision. Surveys of business leaders show the effect of these absurd verdicts. For instance, CEO Magazine has ranked California for 10 years in a row as being the worst state for business, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform ranked California 47th in the nation in its courts’ “fairness and reasonableness” regarding business lawsuits.

California’s unemployment rate is 1.5 points higher than the national average, and the state needs businesses to create jobs in the state. When juries hand down headline-grabbing verdicts like this, it hurts the potential of the state for attract job-creating investment.

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Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) is a nonpartisan grassroots movement of concerned citizens and businesses who are fighting against lawsuit abuse in California. CALA serves as a watchdog to challenge the abuse of our civil justice system, and engages the public and the media to deliver the message that lawsuit abuse is alive and well in California — and that all Californians are paying the price.


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