Tags: AutoZone | lawsuit | discrimination | damages

AutoZone Seeks Retrial in $186 Million Discrimination Case

Wednesday, 04 Mar 2015 08:33 PM

Auto parts retailer AutoZone Inc. on Wednesday asked for a new trial in the case of a San Diego area store manager who was awarded $186 million last year after a jury agreed she had been demoted and later fired after telling her bosses she was pregnant.

At a hearing in San Diego Federal Court, the company asked for a retrial based on what it said were inappropriate incidents involving jurors. AutoZone's lawyer also said that the verdict was based on passion and should be overturned.

Rosario Juarez, 43, began at AutoZone in 1999 as a cashier and worked her way up to store manager.

She was demoted in 2005 after she told her manager she was pregnant and later filed a complaint over the demotion.

Juarez was fired in 2008 amid allegations that she stole $400 from the store. But the loss prevention manager who got Juarez fired later testified she was told to target Juarez.

After eight days of trial and less than two days of deliberations, a federal jury awarded Juarez $870,000 in damages and another $185 million in punitive damages.

The judge, U.S. Magistrate William Gallo, called the award "the largest verdict in the history of the United States in regards to employment discrimination." He did not rule on Wednesday, but urged the two sides to work toward a settlement.

On Wednesday, AutoZone's lawyers cited two incidents involving jurors in their request for a new trial.

In one, they said, a lawyer from Juarez's team sought and obtained the contact information of one juror. In another, they said, Juarez's lead attorney warned the entire jury that anything they said to AutoZone's lawyers could be used to overturn their verdict, according to court documents.

Juarez's lawyer, Douglas Butz, argued that neither action tainted the verdict, while conceding that making contact with a juror during the trial was unethical.

"The defense is raising every issue they can to try to deal with this verdict," Butz said.

AutoZone also argued that the punitive damages were out of line with the actual damages.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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Auto parts retailer AutoZone on Wednesday asked for a new trial in the case of a San Diego area store manager who was awarded $186 million last year after a jury agreed she had been demoted and later fired after telling her bosses she was pregnant.
AutoZone, lawsuit, discrimination, damages
343
2015-33-04
Wednesday, 04 Mar 2015 08:33 PM
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