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Contreras v. Family Health Centers – H&B obtains $5.9 Million Jury Verdict

Date: March 1, 2019

 

After a half decade of litigation and a trip up to the appellate court and back, Hogue & Belong successfully obtained a jury verdict of more than $5.9 Million in this single-plaintiff discrimination action. The plaintiff, Rosario Contreras, worked as a medical records clerk for Family Health Centers of San Diego (“FHC”) for approximately more than 5 years when she incurred a repetitive use injury to her right arm. After having surgery and being placed on temporary assignments while her arm healed, Ms. Contreras was ultimately placed in FHC’s call center, where she sat at a computer work station answering patients questions and directing them to appropriate departments via telephone. Notably, FHC placed Ms. Contreras at a right-handed work station, with a right-handed mouse, despite that her prior work injury was to her right hand and arm. Within weeks of being sent to FHC’s call center, Ms. Contreras re-injured her right arm and requested a left-handed mouse and work station.

The testimony established that FHC never provided these requested accommodations, never presented Ms. Contreras with any alternative job openings to look at, and never informed Ms. Contreras that if she did not find an accommodation or alternate job opening that she could do she would be terminated. Instead, FHC sent Ms. Contreras home and told her to just come back with her Doctor’s notes each month – which she did. Then, approximately four months later, FHC terminated Ms. Contreras and created a separation form falsely stating that Ms. Contreras had voluntarily quit her employment.

Trial attorneys Jeffrey Hogue and Tyler Belong represented Ms. Contreras in her trial and on appeal. After the two week trial, the jury awarded Ms. Contreras $915,645.00 in compensatory damages and $5,000,000.00 in punitive damages. The Court denied FHC’s post trial motions but did reduce the jury’s punitive damages award. After granting Hogue & Beong’s motion for attorneys fees, the total judgment entered is $3,862,482.28.