The four female plaintiffs in this case worked for the Clark County Fire District at a regional training center. ?The assistant fire chief served as the facility?s manager.?? He regularly made sexualized comments about women?s legs and breasts as well as misogynist statements. ?He also targeted the plaintiffs specifically.?? When one eventually complained, he lowered her pay. Fire District managers repeatedly ignored the complaints. ?The district actually terminated one of the plaintiffs.? Another was so traumatized that she?? could?? not?? go?? back?? to?? work,?? and?? was terminated as a result.?? The two other plaintiffs quit.
A four-week jury trial was held in May
- The jury awarded one plaintiff $626,000 in economic damages and $875,000 in emotional distress; the second plaintiff $270,000 for economic damages and $37,500 in emotional distress; the third plaintiff $215,000 in economic damages and $250,000 in emotional distress; and the?? fourth?? plaintiff?? $350,000?? in?? economic damages and $600,000 in noneconomic damages. The trial judge reduced the damages awards to the first plaintiff to $150,000 in economic damages and $250,000 in noneconomic damages.
The plaintiffs? attorney claimed an hourly rate of $300. ?The defendants claimed $225 was the correct rate.? ?The trial judge awarded $280 per hour.?? ?The judge refused to award a multiplier.? ?The judge subtracted $21,000 for unsuccessful claims.
Division III rejected the defendants? challenges to the jury awards as excessive or unsupported? by? the? evidence.?? ?The? appellate court held that the trial judge should not have granted remittitur.?? ?There was substantial evidence to support all of the awards and the trial court improperly substituted its opinion for the jury?s.
The appellate court disagreed with the defendants that the plaintiffs? counsel?s closing argument had improperly interjected evidence of insurance. ?Defendants did not object during trial. The court held that even if the plaintiffs? counsel?s argument that the jury should ?send a message? was improper, the failure to object was fatal to the argument for a new trial.?? The plaintiffs? counsel had specifically told the jury to compensate the plaintiffs proportionate to their suffering.
The appellate court rejected all challenges to the attorneys? fees award.? ?Collins v. Clark County Fire District No. 5, No. 3698-1 (3/11/10).