Skane Wilcox handles personal injury, property damage, civil rights and employment cases for public entities. These cases range from providing evaluation reports to representing the public entity through trial. We have also handled construction-related cases for public entities where we have been retained to represent the public entity because of indemnification and additional insured obligations stemming from our contractor clients.
We represented a public employer in which the plaintiff alleged whistleblower retaliation and a litany of wage and hour violations, including PAGA. During the early stages of litigation, after we served our first round of discovery and the plaintiff’s deposition was scheduled, we obtained an unprecedented favorable settlement on behalf of our client. We also obtained dismissals of two other named public entities prior to the filing of our client’s responsive pleading.
The plaintiff, a former employee of a public entity filed a lawsuit alleging disability discrimination, failure to accommodate and engage in the interactive process and retaliation. At the settlement conference, the judge advised the plaintiff’s counsel that his client’s claims were weak and encouraged settlement based on our settlement conference brief. While our CCP 998 offer was initially rejected at the settlement conference, the following day, opposing counsel was eager to settle for the terms we offered at the settlement conference on behalf of our client.
The plaintiff claimed she slipped and fell on spilled coffee in the hallway of one of the California criminal courts. Our client owned a snack shop on the same floor where the incident took place. Prior to filing our client’s responsive pleading, we were able to obtain a dismissal with prejudice of our client in exchange for a waiver of costs after arguing the lack of evidence of any ownership, control or maintenance of the premises and lack of notice.
The plaintiff, a former 20+ year employee in the transportation and planning department of our client, a Sacramento run government agency, claimed he was harassed and discriminated against because of his disabilities (heart condition), age, national origin, race, and color. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that his supervisors and other high-level government employees made numerous derogatory remarks about his national origin and/or race, gave him unsubstantiated written warnings, transferred job responsibilities to younger employees, and failed to accommodate his disabilities or engage in the interactive process. The plaintiff claimed such conduct seriously affected his health and ultimately caused him to suffer two heart attacks in 2012. He alleged he was forced to resign because of the hostile work environment. In this intensely disputed and litigated lawsuit, after we took the first session of the plaintiff’s deposition, the parties agreed to attend mediation. Prior to mediation, we convinced the plaintiff’s counsel to significantly reduce his client’s demand. This lead to our ability to secure a favorable settlement for less than 10% of the plaintiff’s six-figure demand in mediation.
Most recently, we represented a city and its police department in a wrongful death jury trial. The case was a police vehicle v. motorcycle. Because of clear liability and for strategy purposes, we decided to have the city admit liability and agree to pay the economic damages. Plaintiffs’ counsel asked the jury to award $40 million, $10 million for each plaintiff. The jury awarded $4.75 million, about 10% of the amount plaintiffs asked the jury to award them and an amount substantially less than the amount they were offered before trial.
Some of the public entities we have worked with include: City of San Diego, City of Pasadena, City of San Gabriel, City of Montebello, City of Oakland, City of Santa Maria, County of Santa Clara, County of Santa Cruz, South Coast Air Quality Management District, Alameda Corridor East Construction Authority, Children and Families Commission of Orange County, Sacramento Area Council of Governments and Casitas Municipal Water District.