CA Appellate Court Upholds $1M+ Civil Suit Award Against Employer

February 2, 2009 ( - A California appellate court has upheld an award of just over $1 million to an employee who sued his employer after he was severely beaten in 2004 by a co-worker who had followed him home.

California’s 2nd District Court of Appeals turned away arguments by the employer, Technicolor Entertainment Services Inc., that Eugene Duffy’s civil suit was barred by the provision in California’s worker’s compensation law mandating that such disputes arising from the workplace be dealt with in the worker’s compensation system and not in regular civil court.

The appellate judges upheld the October 2006 award to Duffy of   $1,018,250 and costs of $12,866.26 originally awarded.

Duffy based his suit against Technicolor on charges of negligent retention and supervision on the theory that Technicolor knew about past violent threats and verbal attacks the co-worker,   Harry Streng, had made against other employees, but continued to employ him and failed to discipline him, court records indicate.

The employer contended the suit was barred because the attack grew out of Duffy’s employment, but a California jury found that Duffy’s injuries did not occur within the scope of his employment and that Technicolor’s negligence contributed to Duffy’s injuries.

Appellate judges asserted that because Duffy’s injuries occurred after his work ended and because he was not performing any service to further his employer’s business, the incident was not work related.

The decision is available  here .