Farmers Insurance Exchange and Farmers Insurance Group must pay roughly $2.27 million in attorneys’ fees to a legal executive who a jury found was fired in retaliation for testimony he was about to give backing female in-house lawyers in a class pay bias lawsuit.
The California Superior Court for Los Angeles County entered an order in favor of Andrew Rudnicki Jan. 20. It reduced, but granted, the former senior vice president’s fees request, including awarding him “a modest multiplier of 1.1″ to account for his success in the case. Rudnicki had sought more than $3.3 million in fees, plus a multiplier of 2.0, for a total award of nearly $6.7 million, according to his attorneys’ fees motion.
The fees award adds to Rudnicki’s recovery of $24.3 million in compensatory and punitive damages under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act and state public policy prohibiting unlawful terminations. The jury had awarded Rudnicki more than $155 million after finding in his favor on his retaliation claims, but Judge Ruth Ann Kwan in a May 27 ruling cut $131 million from the jury’s $150 million punitive damages award.
The verdict was believed to be the third-largest of its type in California at the time and the largest in Los Angeles County.
Rudnicki ran the companies’ in-house branch legal offices. He had been with Farmers for 37 years at the time of his termination.
The jury credited Rudnicki’s evidence that he was fired because he was being prepared to give deposition testimony in Coates v. Farmers Insurance Group Inc., an equal pay case in California federal court, his attorney said at the time of the verdict. He said Rudnicki was aware of past sex discrimination in the companies’ legal group and certain pay data being withheld that likely triggered the Coates litigation.
Coates was ultimately settled and the number of women in management positions in the legal department rose substantially during his tenure as a vice president, Rudnicki said in his lawsuit.
Shegerian & Associates represented Rudnicki. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP represented the companies.
The case is Rudnicki v. Farmers Ins. Exch., Cal. Super. Ct., No. BC630158, order awarding attorneys’ fees 1/20/23.
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