Dianne Gober, a bookkeeper at Ralph’s Grocery, and cashier Tina Swann decided to accept an award reduced by the trial judge on July 15 because they wanted to put the experience behind them, according to their attorney. The two San Diego women had been awarded a $30 million verdict in April – a verdict that was the largest in California history and believed to be the third largest sexual harassment award in US history (see Grocery Chain Hit with $30 million Verdict ).
That verdict had been cut by California Superior Court Judge Michael Anello to $8.25 million for the six plaintiffs after finding the original figure was “grossly excessive” and grew out of the jury’s “passion and prejudice.”
The two agreed to a reduced award of $4.5 million from Ralph’s, one of California’s top supermarket chains. The remaining four women have decided to press on with a third trial in hopes of overturning the trial judge’s ruling.
Gober accepted an award of $3 million and Swann accepted $1.5 million, their lawyer said. The women, who worked at a store in Escondido, claimed that store director Roger Misiolek verbally harassed and physically assaulted them by throwing things such as telephones and clipboards at them between July 1995 and April 1996.
The women said they complained to Ralph’s corporate offices, but got no response, other than to have themselves transferred to other stores in the chain.
Their first trial in 2000 resulted in a jury award of
$550,000 in actual damages and $3.8 million in punitive
damages, but the judge later threw the verdict out after
finding out that one of the jurors was a shareholder of
Ralph’s parent company, The Kroger Co.
That led to the followup trial this past April, which resulted in the $30 million verdict. A third trial would also focus on punitive damages.