Gary Snodgrass and Josh Breithaupt Obtain Defense Verdict for Their Client on Million Dollar Wrongful Termination Claim after Three Week Jury Trial in St. Louis County.

 

PS Partners: Gary Snodgrass and Josh Breithaupt

We Represented: The Kilo Diabetes and Vascular Research Foundation

Type of Case: Employment – Wrongful Discharge in Violation of Public Policy

Venue: St. Louis Count Circuit Court

Facts: Plaintiff Marina Larson was the Executive Director of the Kilo Diabetes and Vascular Research Foundation but was terminated for cause in 2013.  Plaintiff asserted that Dr. Charles Kilo, as President of the Kilo Foundation, wrongfully terminated her in violation of Missouri public policy.  More specifically, Plaintiff claimed that she was wrongfully discharged for refusing to fill prescriptions for controlled medications that were written by Dr. Charles Kilo but were for his own personal consumption.  Plaintiff also claimed that Dr. Kilo routinely prescribed medication to his patients without the requisite doctor’s office visit, freely gave out samples of prescription medication to his friends, occasionally gave out prescription medication that was expired, and various other improprieties related to prescription medication.  Plaintiff also asserted that Defendant Kilo Diabetes and Vascular Research Foundation failed and refused to return various items of personal property she left in her office after her termination.  Defendants Kilo Diabetes and Vascular Research Foundation and Dr. Charles Kilo strongly disputed these allegations.

The Defendants argued that Plaintiff Marina Larson was fired for cause as she had not only taken complete control over the Kilo Foundation but had also obtained undue influence over Dr. Kilo in his personal affairs going so far as to become a co-owner on his personal financial accounts, a beneficiary of his will, and she conveniently held complete fiduciary control of his estate and healthcare decisions were he to become incapacitated.

After a three week jury trial in St. Louis County Circuit Court, Plaintiff’s attorney asked the Jury to enter a verdict in favor of Plaintiff Marina Larson in the amount of $1,000,000.00.  In his closing argument, Gary Snodgrass asked the jury to enter a Defense Verdict in favor of Defendant Kilo Diabetes and Vascular Research Foundation on the Wrongful Discharge claim and suggested a minor Plaintiff’s verdict of $1,000.00 on the Conversion claim if the Jury felt so inclined.  This turned out to be the exact Verdicts entered by the Jury.

 

Last Settlement Demand: $1,000,000.00

Last Settlement Offer: $100,000.00

Outcome: On September 9, 2017, the Jury issued a Defense Verdict on the Wrongful Discharge in Violation of Public Policy claim while also allowing for a minor Plaintiff’s Verdict of $1,000.00 on the Conversion claim.  This was a terrific outcome and complete win for Gary and Josh’s client, especially since Defendant Kilo Diabetes and Vascular Research Foundation was entitled to recover its costs incurred due to the Defense Verdict.  These costs far exceeded the $1,000.00 Verdict for Plaintiff several times over.

It should also be noted that this case was made even more difficult for the defense as the Jury was instructed on Verdict Director 38.03 as it existed before the Missouri State Legislature changed it in legislation which became effective on August 28, 2017.

Under the new law applying to all cases filed after the effective date, plaintiffs now have the burden of proof to demonstrate that the alleged wrongful act was the “motivating factor” for the plaintiff’s discharge.  This burden of proof is now significantly higher than the former Verdict Director which only required the plaintiff to show that the wrongful act was a “contributing factor” in the plaintiff’s wrongful discharge.  However, even under the lower standard, the Jury still found in favor of Defendant Kilo Diabetes and Vascular Research Foundation.

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