LOS ANGELES – Two companies have been ordered to pay a former Senior Vice President of Claims Litigation $155.4 million in compensatory and punitive damages after he prevailed in his wrongful termination suit.
The jury on Tuesday found that Farmers Group, Inc. and Farmers Insurance Exchange had retaliated against Andrew Rudnicki, a devoted and decorated employee of 37-years, who was months away from his anticipated testimony in a case alleging claims under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) (Coates v. Farmers).
Fearful that his testimony would have shed light on inaction by Farmers, Farmers retaliated against Rudnicki and shamefully used him as a scapegoat in order to hide their own failure to address concerns Rudnicki raised on behalf of the eventual Coates plaintiffs that led to the Coates litigation.
The jury agreed. On Tuesday, Rudnicki was awarded $5.4 million in compensatory damages. The jury also concluded that an officer, director or managing agent of at least one of the defendants acted with malice, oppression or fraud against Rudnicki, triggering a second phase of the trial.
On Thursday, the punitive damages phase of the trial got underway. Following its conclusion, and within less than forty minutes, a jury awarded Rudnicki a groundbreaking punitive damages award of $150 million against Farmers Insurance Exchange and Farmers Group Inc.
The verdict is believed to be among the highest in the state of California alleging similar claims.
The lawsuit had been filed and tried by Shegerian and Associates on behalf of Rudnicki in Los Angeles Superior Court (Case No. BC630158).