A Los Angeles judge has overturned the verdict and ordered a new trial in the pregnancy discrimination lawsuit a former "Price is Right" model
, who was awarded nearly $8.5 million, brought against the show's producers.
In light of a new state Supreme Court ruling, Superior Court Judge Kevin Brazile said Tuesday he did not properly instruct the jury that ultimately decided in Brandi Cochran's favor last year.
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The ex-"Price is Right" model sued FremantleMedia North America and The Price Is Right Productions in 2010, claiming she was fired after seven years on the show when she tried to return to work after taking maternity leave. In Nov. 2012, she was awarded $7.7 million in punitive damages and nearly $777,000 in compensatory damages.
"We believe the verdict in this case was the result of a flawed process in which the court, among other things, refused to allow the jury to hear and consider that 40 percent of our models have been pregnant and other important evidence to our defense," FremantleMedia said in a statement to E! News at the time the ruling was announced. "We expect to be fully vindicated after the matter has been reviewed and stand behind executive producer Mike Richards and the staff of 'The Price is Right.'"
Now, Brazile says he should have instructed the jury to decide whether pregnancy discrimination was a substantial factor in the producers' decision to keep Cochran from rejoining the cast after her child was born.
"I think there's evidence they could have come out the other way," Brazile told E! Online. "It clearly was an issue they were struggling with."
Attorneys for FremantleMedia and "Price is Right" are happy with the reversal.
"We're very pleased the judge recognized that if the jury had been properly instructed, they may well have ruled in favor of 'The Price is Right,'" defense lawyer Mark Haddad told E! Online.
Carney Shegerian, Cochran's lawyer, is confident he can net more than $8.5 million in damages the second time around.
"I think on re-trial I'll get triple or quadruple that," he told the Associated Press.
A retrial hearing is scheduled for March 22.
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