An Ohio jury awarded the largest verdict in that state’s history — $46.6 million — to a man who was wrongfully fired last year. Ronald Luri accused Republic Services Inc. of retaliation and of forging documents critical of his job performance after he refused to fire three of his employees — all about 60 years old — on the grounds that such actions would constitute age discrimination.
The jury awarded Mr. Luri $3.5 million as compensation for his lost wages as general manager of Republic’s Cleveland division, and $43.1 million in punitive damages as punishment for his treatment by the company. The jury also ordered Republic to pay Luri’s attorneys’ fees, to be determined by the trial judge. The jurors were especially disturbed by testimony of evidence-tampering and actions taken by Mr. Luri’s superiors to prevent him from obtaining new employment in the Cleveland area after his firing. After the verdict was returned, the jury foreman made this statement:
We wanted to send a clear message that this was unjustly done and that they tried to ruin his career.
A key bit of evidence was an e-mail written by Mr. Luri’s boss, Jim Bowen, Republic’s Ohio-area president. A computer expert testified that Bowen had post-dated the memo and added two paragraphs critical of Mr. Luri’s job performance two weeks after the lawsuit was filed. Republic is in the process of a merger that will make it the second largest waste-collection company in the country. It employs 13,000 workers in 21 states, and had $3.2 billion in revenue last year. Maybe it learned a good lesson from this case. Shannon Polk and Richard Haber, who are from Cleveland, Ohio, represented Mr. Luri and did a very good job.
Source: Plain Dealer
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