(PLAINTIFF) v. J.C. PENNEY, INC.
Employment/wrongful termination/false arrest-malicious prosecution/intentional tort case. Plaintiff was a employee of our client, who was caught by surveillance giving a series of unwarranted discounts to known gang members. He was arrested and later dismissed from his employment. He asked the jury for 31 million dollars at trial, but lost 9-3. One thing we learned from this case is to ask the judge how he intends to handle juror excuses, so we can argue any objections to his methods, before being stuck with them.
Here, the judge virtually asked for volunteers to serve for a month, so he went through several panels quickly, then tried to severely curtail voir dire. He excused one juror after he was empaneled and wouldn’t allow counsel another preemptory challenge to replace the one we had used to get him on. Two of the three adverse jurors were women who were added from the last panel and were not subject to the same voir dire as earlier panelists.
The main reason why this case went forward was because the criminal court in Ventura dismissed it, apparently because the dollar amount involved wasn’t worth court time. This administrative dismissal was allowed to stand as the “favorable determination” necessary to allow for a false arrest/malicious prosecution case. So, the City of Ventura police decided to make an arrest, but J.C.Penney almost had to pay for it.