Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Seever v. Copley Press (Cal. Ct. App. - Aug. 15, 2006)

Michael Seever worked as the building supervisor for the Daily Breeze, a newspaper in Torrance. By 2001, the Daily Breeze was losing a great deal of money, so some staff members -- including Seever -- were terminated in order to reduce costs. Seever filed suit, claiming that his termination was the result of discrimination based upon, inter alia, age, disability, and family and medical leave.

It was a lengthy, intensive lawsuit. Seever took 20 depositions and propounded 780 document requests. The Daily Breeze -- owned by Copley Press -- made a statutory settlement offer to resolve the suit in return for its agreement to pay over $200,000, plus costs and attorney's fees. Seever rejected the offer.

Big mistake. The case goes to trial, at which point the jury returns a defense verdict on all counts. And Copley Press is awarded over $85,000 in costs, including expert witness fees. And although Justice Woods tinkers a tiny bit with the amount of the cost award, in essence, plaintiff also loses on appeal.

From up $200,000+ (plus fees) to down $80,000+. Yikes. Sometimes it's a good idea to settle, huh?