The trial began on October 29, 2018 in Suffolk Superior Court. During the trial, the presentation of evidence to the jury lasted six days. The client testified about explicit and derogatory remarks made to her concerning her national origin. There was also evidence that individuals misled the Union membership and that resulted in a vote not to take her termination case to arbitration.
Evidence presented at trial revealed that the membership was told that there were corroborating witnesses to the incident that resulted in the client’s termination by the MBTA. Attorney Connly challenged this important corroboration claim. Through cross-examination of two MBTA employees, he established that the incident had not been witnessed as claimed by the Union.
The jury deliberated for approximately nine hours over a period of three days.
On November 9, 2018, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Attorney Connly’s client. The jury found that the Union had discriminated against her based on her national origin when it voted not to take her wrongful termination case to arbitration. Specifically, the Union failed to abide by its own Bylaws and failed to protect the client against an unlawful termination by the MBTA.
The jury awarded $490,500.00 in emotional distress damages to Attorney Connly’s client. Prejudgment interest of $179,771.19 (12% interest per year from the date the case was originally filed in Court) and statutory costs of $285.00 were added to the verdict bringing the total amount of the judgment to $670,556.19.
Despite the victory in the Superior Court, the case was far from over.
The Union then filed a Motion for Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict and a Motion for a New Trial or Remittitur (a request to reduce the award), which were denied by the trial Judge. In his written decision to uphold the verdict, the Judge noted that the Union did not follow the plain language of its Bylaws in the handling of the client’s termination case. The Judge found that the Union’s process for deciding whether or not to fight the client’s termination was so chaotic and subjective that it left ample opportunity for discrimination to affect the outcome. In denying the Union’s request to reduce the amount of the verdict, the Judge noted that the client undoubtedly experienced acute emotional distress over a period of years.
The Judge then allowed an additional award of attorney’s fees in the amount of $150,000.00 plus $8,733.40 in costs. The total amount of the judgment and fees now owed to the client was $829,289.59.
Despite this second victory in the Superior Court, the case was still not over.
On December 31, 2018, a Notice of Appeal was then filed by the Union in the Suffolk Superior Court. This meant that the issues raised by the Union and overruled by the trial Judge were headed to the Massachusetts Appeals Court where justices would review the evidence and hear oral arguments from both sides.
Meanwhile, yearly interest at a rate of 12% on the original judgment continued to accrue. See our next post for part three of this story.