Los Angeles, CA – August 13, 2020 – Today, the California 2nd District Court of Appeal, Division Three, ruled in favor of a woman who had been sexually harassed by her former supervisor and wrongfully terminated by her employer Fidelity National Financial, Inc.
Soledad Albarracin was an employee of Fidelity National Financial’s legal department in 2014 when she was sent on a corporate retreat of the company’s legal staff, including her supervisor attorney Robert Gardner Wilson in Colorado Springs. Albarracin was a paralegal for Fidelity at the time. On the first day of the retreat, Wilson followed Albarracin her back to her room, attempted to kiss her multiple times without her consent. She immediately reported his behavior to Fidelity. Unfortunately, she continued to suffer further harassing behavior and was not provided any assistance by Fidelity’s human resources department and was required to continue to work under the same conditions. A very short time later she was placed on leave under doctor’s orders and was ultimately terminated in 2015. Ms. Albarracin brought suit against Fidelity and a Los Angeles jury awarded her $250,000 for past emotional distress and imposed $1,950,000 in punitive damages. After the trial court denied the Fidelity defendants’ motions for new trial and judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), it awarded nearly $820,000 in attorneys’ fees.
Fidelity filed an appeal arguing there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding that they engaged in oppressive or malicious conduct and that the amount of the punitive damages award was unconstitutionally excessive. The Court disagreed, concluding there was substantial evidence to support the jury’s finding of oppressive or malicious conduct and that the amount of the award did not exceed constitutional limits and affirmed the judgment and orders.
“This is a great day for Ms. Albarracin, a great day for justice, a great day for our firm and our co-counsel” said lead trial counsel Mike Arias. “She was treated horribly by her own supervisor and her employer and the legal process has once again helped her obtain the justice she absolutely deserves.”
The case is Soledad Albarracin v. Fidelity National Financial, Inc., et al., Los Angeles Superior Court, Case No. BC642922 and California 2nd District Court of Appeal, Case No. B292895.
To read the ruling, please go to: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1dnAEOoPMuyGKRytC3fab8TN5lmaUFm6V/view?usp=sharing.