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Slaymaker v. Armstrong Financial [$838,875.00]

Case: Jacqueline Slaymaker and Laura Arnold v. Armstrong Financial Group, Inc., et al. (Case No. 37-2012-00054141-CU-OE-NC)

Court: Superior Court of San Diego

Judge: Robert P. Dahlquist

Date: May 8, 2014

Result: Hogue & Belong obtained a jury verdict, with a finding of punitive liability, for a total award of $838,875.00.

Facts & Allegations

Plaintiffs Jacqueline Slaymaker and Laura Arnold were both employees at Armstrong Financial Group. Armstrong Financial Group is a financial recruiting firm located in Carlsbad.

Ms. Slaymaker began her employment with Armstrong Financial Group in June 2009. A few weeks into her employment, she began getting invites to “passion parties” where sex toys are sold from the Director of Operations, and another co-worker. The female co-worker that sat immediately behind her would promote her husband’s sex toy business on the phone during work hours.

The owner sent his staff an email containing a joke about someone having sex with a pumpkin. The owner also told Ms. Slaymaker that the ideal anniversary gift to give her boyfriend was to have lesbian sex in front of him.

Ron Edde, a co-defendant and employee at Armstrong Financial Group, would frequently turn benign conversations into a joke with a sexual conotation. Ron Edde also sent a picture of two golf balls with “Ron Edde” enscribed on each golf ball; the body of the email said, “I thought I’d show you a tasteful picture of my balls.” Mr. Edde sent many more emails with similar sexual undertones. Another female co-worker pulled up her shirt and asked Ms. Slaymaker to touch her breasts during a work event.

The owner showed both Ms. Slaymaker and Ms. Arnold a “sexual sensitivity training” video where the male students had laser glasses on that indicated wherever the student was looking. As the video went on, the laser beams showed that the students were viewing the instructor’s crotch area and then the lasers focused on a donkey’s penis. Later, when a young woman entered the scene and asked if she could help, all of the red dots were focused in on her breasts, and ultimately her breasts caught on fire. The owner also showed employees a video that he created himself, where his staff was drinking alcohol, and at the end of the video a beer bottle was held up to a baby’s mouth.

Ms. Slaymaker complained to The owneron at least three occasions, but beyond speaking with co-defendant Ron Edde and another offending co-worker one time, nothing was ever done.

In June 2007 Ms. Arnold began her employment at Armstrong Financial Group. Along with watching the “sexual sensitivity training” video referenced above on her very first day, The owner would make comments such as “do you want to see my porn collection,” and “I want to be hung like John Holmes.” After a work event, the owner drove to Ms. Arnold’s house, threw up in her bushes, and came into her house uninvited, and then passed out on her floor while Ms. Arnold waited until he woke up to call him a cab. The owner also sent Ms. Arnold a distasteful email joke about pornography.

Ms. Slaymaker and Ms. Arnold ultimately resigned on March 2011, and April 2011, respectively.

During discovery, Hogue & Belong were denied key evidence. Due to the Court’s rulings they were deprived of acquiring “me too” evidence from Defendant’s.  Furthermore, Hogue & Belong were denied the opportunity to even depose any of the defendants prior to trial. Thus, the Plaintiffs proceeded to trial without any such evidence.