Newmeyer Dillion defended a prominent, national lender in a contentious and complex sexual harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination lawsuit. Brought between a former executive against a current executive, the suit threatened the reputations of the individuals involved and of the company within the finance industry, as witnesses shared their own experiences as evidence during arbitration. With over one million dollars in lost wages, emotional distress and punitive damages at stake, not including upwards of $400,000 in costs and legal fees, ND faced a high-stakes and hostile claim amid the backdrop of the #MeToo movement.
ND’s team, including partner Michael Studenka and associate Jessica Daley, focused their strategy on prevailing at trial. Leveraging his experience as a criminal attorney, Michael effectively leveraged deposition testimony and the fruits of informal discovery to drive a slashing cross-examination during arbitration.
In recent years, California has increasingly become an employee-friendly state, leading companies and its executives to feel defeated as soon as an alleged claim of sexual harassment comes to the surface. The ND team demonstrated an unwavering commitment to confront the issue head on, understand the dynamics of the situation and distinguish significant information from information that is interesting, but inadmissible.
On the first day of arbitration, Michael’s day-long cross-examination of the plaintiff resulted in a waiver of costs, walk-away deal that ended 14 months of litigation—a rare and abrupt development. The plaintiff dropped her case, for which ND’s client paid nothing and said nothing under oath. ND’s complete defense of the lawsuit not only saved the client from paying out a monetary reward, but also mitigated reputational risk and the suit’s impact on company culture.