News & Events

July 1, 2016

Bell, Weiler and Sphar Win Opinion in Employment Discrimination Case

Swanson Martin & Bell LLP attorneys Brian W. Bell, Catherine Basque Weiler, and Troy M. Sphar won an opinion in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit which affirmed a jury verdict for their client, a medical corporation, in an employment discrimination case.

The plaintiff, a former receptionist working at the medical corporation’s offices, alleged that her employer fired her after learning of the possibility that she had cancer, an alleged violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The medical corporation explained that the receptionist was fired for falsely claiming that she would have to take time off work to serve jury duty. After weighing the evidence at trial, a jury returned its verdict for the medical corporation.  More information about the verdict can be found at this link.
The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the district court made several evidentiary errors which entitled her to a new trial. The Seventh Circuit disagreed, finding no abuse of discretion and affirming the district court’s judgment. Among other things, the opinion offers a useful roadmap for evaluating the admissibility of diary entries and the importance of fully and completely questioning a witness. As the Seventh Circuit observed, counsel is not entitled to a “do-over” in rebuttal, where he fails to elicit the testimony he seeks on direct examination. The plaintiff had sought compensatory damages and, as allowed under the ADA, more than $500,000 in attorney fees and costs. 

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