& McNicholas Secure Appeal Confirmation On Their Verdict For A Police
Officer Against LAPD in Anti-Retaliation Employment
Court Affirms Retaliation Verdict in Favor of LAPD Officer for Testifying
Against LAPD in Trial --
LOS ANGELES, CA – Matthew
McNicholas, partner with Los Angeles-based plaintiff’s trial law firm, McNicholas & McNicholas, obtained a
decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirming the district court’s
judgment, after a jury trial (which Mr. McNicholas tried to verdict in the trial
court) in favor of Leonard Avila, an LAPD officer who claimed that the Los
Angeles Police Department (LAPD) fired him in retaliation for testifying in a
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lawsuit brought by a fellow officer. The panel
held that even after an officer was terminated through the Department’s Board of
Rights, he could still sue in court for discrimination.
“The LAPD has always taken the
position that if they fire you through their Board, you cannot sue them in court
without appealing their Board. This case demonstrates this is not accurate,”
said Mr. McNicholas. “We are extremely gratified that the Court of Appeals
confirmed the jury’s verdict and the trial court’s rulings, and are proud to
continue to protect employees’ rights.”
In January 2008, Mr. Avila testified
under subpoena in a FLSA suit against the LAPD and City of Los Angeles in the
Central District of California brought by fellow officer Edward Maciel, who
sought overtime pay for working his lunch hours. Mr. Avila testified that he and
many other LAPD officers, including his supervisors, operated under an unwritten
policy of not claiming overtime for working through lunch. After Mr. Avila
testified, the LAPD filed an internal investigation complaint against him and
another officer, Richard Romney, who testified at the Maciel trial alleging that
they had been insubordinate by not submitting requests for overtime. The LAPD
Board of Rights found Mr. Avila and Mr. Romney guilty of insubordination and
both were terminated.
Mr. Avila sued the LAPD and City of
Los Angeles claiming that the real reason he was fired was not because he worked
through lunch without requesting overtime, but because he testified in the prior
lawsuit. The jury ruled in favor of Mr. Avila and awarded damages of $50,000.
The district court entered a judgment on the jury verdict, and later amended it
to award Mr. Avila $50,000 in liquidated damages and $579,400 in attorney’s
fees. The total judgment, before interest, was $679,400
Mr. McNicholas also represented Mr.
Romney in an identical case and obtained a $3,999,945 verdict. This verdict was
larger than Mr. Avila’s because Mr. Romney was never able to be rehired while
Mr. Avila was.
McNicholas, a Los Angeles-based plaintiff’s trial law firm, represents clients
in the areas of catastrophic personal injury, employment law, class actions,
sexual abuse and other consumer-oriented matters such as civil rights, aviation
disasters and product liability. Founded by a family of attorneys spanning three
generations, McNicholas & McNicholas has been trying cases to jury verdict
on behalf of their clients for more than five decades.
Los Angeles, CA