Simers v. Los Angeles Times Commc’ns, LLC, 18 Cal. App. 5th 1248 (2018)

T.J. Simers, a well-known sports columnist for the Los Angeles Times, alleged disability and age discrimination and constructive discharge – Simers, who had suffered a “mini-stroke” from which he quickly recovered, quit his job after his column was suspended and he was reprimanded and demoted for a possible ethical breach. The jury awarded Simers over $2.1 million in economic damages and $5 million in emotional distress damages. The trial court granted the Times’ motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (“JNOV”) on Simers’ constructive termination claim, but otherwise denied the JNOV, finding substantial evidence supported the verdict on plaintiff’s age and disability discrimination claims. The trial court also granted the Times’ motion for a new trial on all damages because it was not possible to determine what amount of noneconomic damages the jury awarded because of the discrimination but not because of the constructive discharge. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s judgment, holding that none of the circumstances relied upon by Simers to justify his resignation, “alone or in combination, amount to working conditions that are either unusually aggravated or a continuous pattern of mistreatment.” In addition to affirming the grant of the new trial motion as to damages, the appellate court also affirmed the denial of the Times’ JNOV motion as to age and disability discrimination.