Back to Webinars Schedule
David DeRubertisDan Ambrose

David DeRubertis · Dan Ambrose

$20,000,000 Failure to Accommodate Verdict against Marriott

TLU Icon July 2, 2024 5:30 PM||TLU n Demand

Register NowZoom Icon

In September 2023, a San Francisco jury awarded a record-setting $20 million failure to accommodate verdict to Dan Callahan, a former concierge at the San Francisco Marquis Marriott. Years into his employment, Dan became an incomplete paraplegic after an epidural for chronic low back pain went bad and Dan required various accommodations to be able to keep working. For about 4 years, Marriott provided lots of accommodations and engaged in a robust interactive process. But, in the last year of his employment, Marriott required Dan to work at a renovated workstation which did not accommodate one of his restrictions - the ability to alternate sitting and standing. In September 2019, after months of trying to get modifications to the workstation, Dan quit his job. But then, in March of 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Marriott laid off all of its concierges at the San Francisco Marquis Marriott and it never hired any back. In the months that followed, Dan (who had underlying heart issues) began a downward cardiac spiral which prevented him from working independently. Marriott and its lawyers said Dan had no real damages. Even if he had not quit in September 2019, he would have been laid off in March 2020 and, in any event, his heart condition prevented him from working anyway. Still, the jury returned a $20 million failure to accommodate verdict - the largest single-plaintiff employment verdict ever to come out of the San Francisco Superior Court — consisting of $5 million in non-economic damages and $15 million in punitive damages.

In this case analysis webinar, Dan’s lead trial lawyer David deRubertis will discuss each aspect of the trial, as well as specifically address topics like:

- How he overcame focus group findings which resoundingly showed jurors, based in part on the 4-plus years of Marriott providing many accommodations, viewed the case as, at worst, one of mistake and incompetence rather than intentional or malicious conduct to obtain a punitive damages verdict;

- How he framed the case to focus on the core strengths while incorporating the negative parts of the case into his client’s affirmative story;

- How to secure punitive damages when the adverse witnesses being called were generally trying to help the plaintiff and the real decision-makers (i.e., the real bad actors) would not testify at trial;

- How he navigated around the apparent lack of damages given the COVID layoffs and Dan’s eventual decline of his heart condition which, independently, prevented him from working;

- How to assign the proper roles to the characters in the story to ensure and resist making unwarranted attacks on the defense witnesses;

- Sequencing the witnesses in trial to build to the anger pinnacle;

- Telling your story through adverse witnesses;

- Providing physical injuries resulting from emotional distress;

- Handling the defense forensic psych.

If you can't attend Live, Watch On Demand