One of the local law firms, The Dolan Law Firm, took on a case of two Arab Americans who were suffering from harrasment in the workplace. After a six week trial, the jury deliberated for four hours. The case was heard in Alameda County in Department 19, under the title Issa v. Roadway Package System (which is now Fed Ex Ground).
At trial, The Dolan Law Firm's Christopher Dolan asked the jury to return a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs in the amount of $2.5 million each to compensate for the daily harassment the two suffered while working at Federal Express.
From what I have heard, the jury took four hours to deliberate and came back with a verdict on May 24. They ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. The amount awarded? 5.5 million to each plaintiff.
What is interesting about this is that apparently there were no experts. Just the statements made by employees and managers of the company as well testimony of the two men who suffered the verbal humiliation for no other reason than they were born in Lebanon. The jury also found that punitives should be awarded.
A week later, the two sides were back at it. They argued the question of punitives to the jury on Thursday this week. Apparently, the jury just came back with a number.
As to the supervisors who were part of the problem, the jury awared the plaintiffs $56.00.
As to FedEx ground, who was ultimately responsible and failed to put into place a system to preven this from happeneing, the jury awarded $50,000,000.00 (that would fifty million if I am counting zeros correctly).
Something that makes this almost more amazing is that the two men who were being harassed, for an accident of birth, had gone to ten other law firms and a prestigious civil rights organization before finally going to Mr. Dolan's firm. All of them passed on the case. Mr. Dolan , and his staff, took the time to go out and find the evidence and the witnesses.
Unfortunately, there will be some who will look at this case and say it was a jury gone wild, that Alameda County, where the trial was held, is a judicial hellhole. They will belittle the case and the say that this is just another example of lawyers run amok and ruining businesses.
What people should see is that two men just wanted to work. Instead, according to the pleadings, they were insulted, given less profitable jobs than those who were not lebanese or accepted the abuse without protest, and derided for their perceived lifestyle choice for no other reason than the place where they were born. No one should have to go through that.
Congratulations Mr. Dolan on your win.
(For those who want to see the complaint, it is here in Tiff form or at the Alameda County Superior Court web site under case C-8411208)