Bryan Schwartz Law Announces Jury Verdict for Minimum Wage Class Action Plaintiff Wrongfully Terminated from Server Job
She Lost only $3,000 in Wages but Recovers over $375,000 in Damages
March 4, 2016, Oakland, CA – Today, employment and civil rights attorney Bryan Schwartz announced a jury verdict won in Orange County Superior Court, complex division (Hon. William D. Claster), on behalf of a lead class plaintiff, Amanda Quiles, in her suit alleging unpaid minimum wages. Just a few weeks after filing her class action, the company, Koji’s Japan, Inc., and its owner, Arthur J. Parent, Jr., fired Quiles.
Quiles brought her case against the small sushi restaurant chain in November 2010 as a class action alleging wage violations, which is still pending. Quiles, who was still employed there as a server, was promptly fired. Though the jury found her wage loss damages from being fired were very limited (she worked for minimum wage plus tips, and got a new job within a couple months), she asserted a retaliation claim under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 USC 215(a)(3).
“We have to protect our clients who are brave enough to step forward and assert class claims,” said Schwartz, celebrating the victory.
Years after filing suit, Quiles and her attorneys learned that the company’s owner, Parent, told his subordinate managers to “get rid of her,” and “leave a paper trail.”
Parent closed his restaurants in 2012, hoping the suit would vanish, but it did not. The plaintiff and Schwartz’s firm redoubled their efforts to hold Parent personally responsible. He filed personal and corporate bankruptcy the first day of trial in January 2015, but Quiles’s attorneys obtained a stay from the Chapter 7 action as to the restaurants, and his Chapter 13 individual bankruptcy was dismissed. In May 2015, Parent was sanctioned over $50,000 to pay Quiles’s attorneys’ fees and costs for dealing with the bankruptcy, by the United States District Court for the Central District of California, for his frivolous, strategic bankruptcy filing.
After a bench trial over the course of several weeks last year, the court found that Parent was a joint employer under the FLSA because he had “absolute control” over the restaurant chain and had the “ability if not the inclination” to enforce the wage laws.
Plaintiff offered to settle the case for $20,000 plus her fees and costs in fall 2015, but Parent ignored the offer. In October and December 2015, Quiles and her counsel arrived to try the case, but it was delayed until February 2016. In October 2015, however, the trial court permitted the addition of a punitive damages claim, which ultimately proved very substantial.
The jury’s verdict on March 2 and 3, 2016 was for $3,000 in lost wages, plus $27,500 in compensatory damages, plus $350,000 in punitive damages – with liquidated damages (and attorneys’ fees and costs) still to be determined by the court.
During the trial, Parent was impeached as to his whereabouts when the lawsuit was served. He claimed that he had not seen the lawsuit before Quiles was fired, in early December 2010. Plaintiff’s counsel first attempted service on November 24, 2010 – the day before Thanksgiving. Parent was then shown an email which was forwarded from his account, later that same day, mentioning the lawsuit in the subject line.
Parent then invented a story that he was in Hawaii that day, and might have been “on a cruise,” and did not have email access, so it must have been one of his subordinates who sent the email from his account. However, evidence of his postings on his public Facebook page showed that he did go to Hawaii, but on November 25th. The title of his picture posted on Facebook was “At the Airport, LAX, Thanksgiving Day.” He was not on a cruise, but rather, sitting in first class on a plane. Another image from Facebook showed him standing on the beach at Waikiki at sunset on Thanksgiving.
In the punitive damages phase of trial, the jury heard about Parent’s 103-foot yacht, and plaintiff’s counsel used a long tape measure to show how big the yacht was (more than twice the length of the courtroom) that Parent was riding around on, while Quiles was fighting to get her minimum wages paid.
“I am so grateful to the jury, and to my attorneys, for finally bringing me justice,” said Quiles, who still works as a server. “Maybe someday I will open my own restaurant with this money – but I will pay my workers properly and give back to my community!”
The case is Amanda Quiles, et al. v. Koji’s Japan, Inc., and Arthur J. Parent, Jr., case number 30-2010-00425532-CU-OE-CXC, in the Superior Court for the County of Orange.Quiles-03-04-16
About Bryan Schwartz Law
The firm’s principal, Bryan Schwartz, opened the practice in January 2009. Bryan Schwartz Law is dedicated to continuing the struggle for civil rights and equality of employment opportunity and helping Americans from every background to achieve their highest career potential. The firm focuses on individual, class, and collective actions involving discrimination and retaliation, harassment, denied disability accommodations, whistleblower reprisal, wage and hour violations, federal employees’ rights, and severance negotiations.
When no other attorney would touch my case, Bryan took it on with zeal. Since then, the EEOC certified a class action and has ruled in our favor in every motion the other side has thrown at us. A five-star rating does not come close…
I was fortunate to have found Bryan Schwartz Law while searching for reputable and reliable law firms in the Oakland area that specialized in labor law, and I couldn’t be more pleased by the results they secured for my family on my father’s behalf! After…
Bryan's firm came highly recommended to deal with an employment discrimination and harassment case. Bryan and his staff were very professional, ethical, extremely organized and diligent. They are strong advocates who worked extremely hard to get me a very fair resolution to my case. I…
Bryan Schwartz is an attorney who gives good, sound advice and empowers you to believe in your convictions. I reached out to him because no other attorney wanted to assist me. Bryan has been my advocate for the last six years. He is compassionate, empathetic…
Bryan Schwartz is without a doubt a fantastic attorney. As tenacious as he is intelligent, I would absolutely recommend his services to anyone seeking justice. Not only is his legal expertise top notch, his interpersonal skills with his clients are superb as well. Working with…
Bryan and his team were highly recommended by a friend and another attorney. I reached out to Bryan when I was sick, hurting and afraid, not knowing what to expect or how to ask for help. Bryan offered to help, he and his team fought…
When I first met Bryan, and the team at Bryan Schwartz Law, I was blown away by how understanding, sympathetic, and outright dismayed they were to the unlawful situation my coworkers and I were (to say the least) uncomfortably having to endure and work through.…
Bryan Schwartz represented me successfully in mediating my age discrimination claim against a large employer....[T]here can be few lawyers with greater legal acumen or a more relentless drive to get an acceptable result for their clients. Bryan is all business and probably works too hard.…
I could never imagine having any other attorney on my side when I needed someone. This office is beyond professional and intelligent from the person answering the phone right to the attorneys. These attorneys will fight tooth and nail for you.
These guys were amazing. Just on the ball, knowledgeable and friendly as hell. I presented my case over the phone and I immediately got some preliminary feedback which was awesome. I was asked for more details which I provided via email the next day. Two…
Schedule an initial consultation to have Bryan Schwartz Law
evaluate your situation.
*Your submission of an intake request form does not guarantee that Bryan Schwartz Law will take your case or provide legal advice. You must be offered and sign a representation agreement with the firm before you will receive any legal advice.
How did we do?
Note: Your review may be shared publicly.