Cordero-Sacks v. Housing Authority of Los Angeles, 200 Cal. App. 4th 1267 (2011)

Ada Cordero-Sacks was terminated from her position as an attorney in the Los Angeles Housing Authority’s Office of Internal Control following her investigation of alleged internal misconduct and fraud within the Authority. Cordero-Sacks’s claim for retaliatory discharge under the California False Claims Act (the “FCA”) was tried to a jury, which resulted in a verdict in her favor in the amount of $440,000. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment on the grounds that Cordero-Sacks was a proper plaintiff under the FCA even though she was not pursuing a qui tam action when she was subjected to retaliation. The Court further held that Cordero-Sacks had not wrongfully disclosed confidential attorney-client information in prosecuting this case or that there was insufficient evidence in the absence of such privileged information. The Court further held that the Authority was properly barred from offering evidence of Cordero-Sacks’s alleged poor performance because the Authority had refused to produce such information during discovery based upon the attorney-client privilege. The Court also held that Cordero-Sacks’s self-employment was a reasonable, good faith exercise of diligence in attempting to mitigate her damages. Finally, the Court affirmed the trial court’s award of $415,000 in attorney’s fees to Cordero-Sacks.