Case History - Aiman-Smith & Marcy
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Case History

Case History

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has successfully litigated individual, class action, and representative lawsuits, including for unpaid overtime, meal and rest break claims, unpaid vacation wages, employment discrimination, defrauding employees out of promised employment benefits, investment fraud, consumer protection, funeral home misconduct, illegal non-competition agreements, fraudulent insurance commission overcharges, fraudulent check guarantee services, and false advertising.The following are examples of the type of cases that the attorneys at Aiman-Smith & Marcy have handled. Note that some settlement agreements contain a confidentiality clause and so names are not being used in those instances. There are several issues you might note as you read these case histories.

First, while most cases settle, and while some small minority of cases settle early in the process, for the large majority of cases the greatest value for the case and the client is only realized by litigating the case until the defendant is willing to pay full, reasonable value, and that point is typically late in the litigation process: in our cases, this has meant the eve of trial, after trial, after appeal, and, in some cases, after multiple appeals.

Also, notice that these cases presented difficult issues: in every case, the defendant had arguments, sometimes very powerful arguments, in its favor. Many of the cases described below were rejected by multiple attorneys before we were contacted.

Finally, it is unethical for any attorney to promise or guarantee a particular outcome in any particular case. While we are proud of our track record, our historical success is, logically, not a promise of future success in any particular case. What we do promise is that we will bring to your case the same level of dedication that has allowed us to succeed in our other cases and that you will never be charged a penny for attorney’s fees or costs unless we successfully resolve your case.

Employment and Civil Rights Cases

Rivero v. City and County of San Francisco. This was a civil rights and whistleblowing case brought against a government defendant in 1993 and litigated for 15 years: through trial in 1995 where plaintiff prevailed, and then over 12 more years while the government continued to fight the case through three appeals to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and where the attorneys prevailed each time. In 2008, the defendant finally paid more than $2,300,000 including damages, interest, and attorney’s fees.

Confidential v. Confidential. Plaintiff, an African-American man worked as an insurance salesperson for a large insurance brokerage. He procured a large government agency account which generated substantial commissions. A white officer in the brokerage company removed plaintiff from the account and took it for himself – something that had never been done to any white brokers. Then the brokerage proceeded to defraud the government agency out of several million dollars in hidden commissions. During the case, we were contacted by an African-American woman who worked for that same government agency. She had recognized the fraud and blown the whistle, but had been fired by higher-ups in the agency who had been given trips and gifts by the brokerage company. The attorneys took her case as well and filed a companion case on her behalf.

Both cases settled shortly before trial for $850,000 paid to the clients and more than $1,000,000 returned to the government.

Employment Litigation

Confidential v. Confidential. Plaintiff, a female insurance salesperson and senior vice president, ranked in the top 10% nationally, was fired by her employer, a large insurance brokerage company. The employer claimed the firing was justified because the plaintiff had used foul language in the office and had gotten angry and sworn at co-workers and at customers – which the plaintiff did not deny. The attorneys demonstrated that this same kind of behavior was treated as macho and good, aggressive salesmanship when men did it and further these charges were a smokescreen to mask the theft of the plaintiff’s valuable book of business. Hundreds of hours were invested in successfully resisting two major motions to dismiss the case without trial. The attorneys took depositions all over the United States, employed six expert witnesses, and invested more than $100,000 in costs before settling the case, in the week before trial, for $2,100,000.

Confidential v. Infosys Technologies. A 29-year-old woman was subjected to a lengthy course of pervasive and terrible sexual harassment by her supervisor at a high-tech company. The harassment resulted in a sexual relationship which continued for several months before the employee was able to leave the company. The employer claimed the relationship was consensual. Plaintiff countered that the relationship was coerced and that the supervisor had stalked and harassed the employee even after she left employment. The employee suffered severe psychological damage including post-traumatic stress disorder and other serious effects. The case settled for $3,000,000.

Confidential v. Confidential. In a race discrimination case against a major stock brokerage company, the African-American plaintiff had been employed for two decades before being summarily fired during a supposed “restructuring.” The employer claimed that the plaintiff had been a poor performer in his group with declining sales and, further, that the restructuring involved redistributing accounts for a better geographic match between the accounts and brokers, and that after plaintiff’s accounts were geographically rematched the plaintiff’s book of business was greatly reduced. We painstakingly uncovered evidence that the plaintiff was in fact an excellent performer and that the defendant’s claim that plaintiff’s numbers were declining was based on an unfair comparison of a once-in-a-lifetime sales year to other, excellent but comparatively lower years. When plaintiff’s overall performance was fairly compared to other employees, plaintiff was actually one of the best performers. Further, we provided evidence that the geographic redistribution had actually only been applied to plaintiff. The case settled for $1,900,000.

Confidential v. Confidential. In a sex discrimination case against a major stock brokerage firm, the client actually left employment as a stockbroker and in her new employment tripled her income. The defendant claimed that since the plaintiff’s income had increased so dramatically, she had not suffered any income loss even if she had been discriminated against, which the company denied. The attorneys provided evidence that if the employer had not discriminated, plaintiff would never have left her job and that, even though her later income was much higher than when she worked for defendant, it was still much less than she would have made had she remained at her old job in a non-discriminatory work environment. The case settled for $900,000.

Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad. An African-American woman was fired on the last day of her probationary period which would have led to a good, secure, union job. Over four years of vigorous litigation we painstakingly demonstrated that discrimination was a cause of her termination. We took more than 20 depositions in Utah, Omaha, Houston, and Reno, we hired six experts including economists, psychologists, and social scientists, we invested more than $250,000, all culminating in a six-week trial after which the jury awarded our client $1,670,000, plus costs and attorney’s fees. The case thereafter settled for a confidential amount.

Class Actions

Bradley v. Networkers In a major victory for our clients, and for all California employees, our firm represented a group of tech workers who were improperly classified as independent contractors and then not paid overtime or given breaks. The case started badly when our motion to certify a class action was denied by the San Diego Superior Court and the California Court of Appeal upheld that result. We did not give up though. We appealed to the Supreme Court, which granted a review and held the case pending its decision in Brinker Restaurant Corp. v. Superior Court. Following the Brinker decision, the Supreme Court ordered the prior Court of Appeal decision vacated and instructed that Court to review the case in light of Brinker. The Court took seriously its responsibility to review the case and on December 12, 2012, issued a lengthy opinion overruling the trial court, upholding our clients’ rights to class certification, and clarifying favorable rules governing class certification for all California employees. Here is a link to the Court of Appeal’s opinion.

Westman v. Rogers Family Funeral Home In a class action for a funeral parlor’s mishandling of remains, the attorneys represented the lead plaintiff through all aspects of the case, ultimately settling for $4,000,000: the totality of the defendants’ insurance and reachable assets.

Wright v. Objectstream A small, high-tech company was in dire straits as the dot-conomy collapsed. Hoping to preserve the going-concern value of the business for a possible sale, the company promised its employees three months’ severance if they would remain until the company either sold or went out of business. The employees remained, sacrificing significant opportunities to find other jobs in the steadily-worsening economy. The sale of the company never materialized, however, and the company then refused to pay the severance benefits and closed its doors. Although the company was out of business and its directors had little in the way of assets, we brought a class action on behalf of approximately 60 employees, seeking the promised severance benefits. We recovered approximately half of the promised benefits ind a settlement of $600,000. Although the total amount recovered was not large by class action standards, the attorneys are proud to have created a significant recovery for this small group of employees in circumstances that other attorneys considered hopeless.

Zimmelman v. Crosscheck In a class action against a check guarantee company, the company refused to pay numerous claims for bad checks. The attorneys recovered on behalf of more than 1200 merchant account holders in settling the case for $1,200,000.

Smith v. S.Com. In a class action for overtime wages, a supplier of temporary workers failed to pay overtime. In settlement discussions, the company threatened to dissolve. The attorneys successfully obtained partial payment from a parent holding company to contribute to a total settlement of $2,000,000.

Confidential v. Confidential A major retailer of automotive goods and services misclassified its store managers as exempt from the payment of overtime and requirements that they be provided with meal and rest breaks. We sued on behalf of all managers; the case resolved for a total settlement amount of $14,000,000.

Temporary Workers v. Various In more than a dozen cases we have brought class actions on behalf of temporary workers who were misclassified as independent contractors and then forced to work many hours without overtime or meal and rest breaks. We have recovered more than $20,000,000 for such workers.

Recent approval of class action settlements have also been obtained in the following cases, with further information available on the courts’ websites:

  • Flournoy, et al. v. 3S Network, Inc., Contra Costa County Superior Court, Case No. C09-00113
  • Hurtado, et al. v. Lowe’s HIW, U.S. District Court, Northern District, Case No. CV-11-1996
  • Kulvicki, et al. v. Pick-N-Pull Auto Dismantlers, Alameda County Superior Court, Case No. RG11560441
  • Price, et al. v. EXI Parsons Telecom, Los Angeles County Superior Court, Case No. BC351252
  • Robinson, et al. v. Defender Security Company, Alameda County Superior Court, Case No. RG10505016

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