ARTICLE ID 28264
$________ TO 97 PLAINTIFFS INCLUDING $________ IN PUNITIVE DAMAGES AGAINST DEFENDANT GENERAL DYNAMICS AND $________ IN PUNITIVE DAMAGES AGAINST ONE INDIVIDUAL DEFENDANT VICE PRESIDENT OF GENERAL DYNAMICS - AS TO ONE PLAINTIFF - INTENTIONAL AND NEGLIGENT MISREPRESENTATION - INTENTIONAL AND NEGLIGENT INTERFERENCE WITH PROSPECTIVE ECONOMIC ADVANTAGE.
San Diego County, California
The plaintiffs in this action were ________ former employees of the
Convair Division of General Dynamics Corporation, alleging that
the defendant General Dynamics, two former vice presidents and
two former managers of the Convair Division, directly and
indirectly threatened the plaintiffs careers at the company if
the plaintiffs participated in a settlement of a then-existing
class action lawsuit against General Dynamics. The plaintiffs
additionally asserted that when the threats of career jeopardy
were made, the defendants defrauded them because the company had
already developed a secret plan to shut down the plant where the
plaintiffs had worked. The plaintiffs sought recovery under five
causes of action: intentional misrepresentation, negligent
misrepresentation; concealment; intentional interference with
prospective economic advantage and negligent interference with
prospective economic advantage.
The incidents out of which the subject lawsuit arose occurred in
________. The plaintiffs contended that the defendants directly and
indirectly threatened to terminate the plaintiffs careers at the
company if the plaintiffs participated in an underlying lawsuit,
which had been filed by employees against General Dynamics
alleging failure to pay overtime wages as required by the Fair
Labor Standards Act. The plaintiffs alleged that while making the
threats that the plaintiffs careers with the defendant company
would be jeopardized, the defendant, through its vice presidents
and certain managers, was developing a secret plan to shut down
the plant where the plaintiffs worked, putting them out of a job.
The defendants denied that they defrauded the plaintiffs or
interfered with their right to participate in the underlying
overtime lawsuit and specifically denied causing the plaintiffs
any harm. Additionally, the defendant General Dynamics filed a
cross-claim against 23 of the plaintiffs, or cross-defendants,
for indemnification and contribution. In its cross-claim, General
Dynamics alleged that the cross-defendants were liable for any
damages General Dynamics may be ordered to pay as a result of
statements the cross-defendants made to their fellow employees
that were not authorized by General Dynamics.
The cross defendants maintained that they merely repeated threats
they had heard from their bosses to fellow employees, including
other plaintiffs. The cross-defendants asserted that they made
these threats because they were told to pass along similar
information to their co-employees and subordinates and because
they were simply repeating actual threats they were told by their
superiors, including the defendants.
Alternatively, the cross-defendants contended that because the
amounts the plaintiffs would have recovered by joining the p 7 3
overtime lawsuit had never been paid by General Dynamics, the
company had effectively authorized and ratified the threats the
cross-defendants repeated to their co-employees and subordinates.
Prior to trial, the Court limited the plaintiffs compensatory
damages to the amount they would have recovered had they joined
the underlying overtime wage case, which had already been
settled. The plaintiffs have another lawsuit pending seeking to
recover back overtime since ________ on fraud theories. Given the
Trial Courts ruling limiting the plaintiffs damages, the
parties stipulated as to each plaintiffs compensatory damages,
ranging from $________ to $________ per plaintiff, which totaled
slightly more than $1.8 million.
With regard to punitive damages, the plaintiffs argued that given
the reprehensibility and widespread nature of the conduct, the
profits the company made from its scheme, and General Dynamics
net worth ($1.7 billion at the time of trial), only a substantial
punitive damages verdict would serve the purposes of punishment
The plaintiffs original demand was $23.2 million, reduced to
$9.8 million during trial. In closing argument, the plaintiffs
attorney Monaghan asked the jury to award approximately $________
million in punitive damages. The defendants offered $1.5 million
prior to trial, raised to $1.8 million and then $3.6 million
during trial, but conditioned on dismissal of this case and
several other lawsuits against General Dynamics.
The jury found for 97 of the plaintiffs on all five counts, to
recover a total of $________ from General Dynamics and the
individual defendant Vietch, one of the two vice presidents,
broken down as follows: $________ in compensatory damages
against General Dynamics and the individual defendant,
$________ in punitive damages against General Dynamics and
$________ in punitive damages against the individual defendant.
The jury also returned a defense verdict as to one of the
plaintiffs. Before the case was submitted to the jury, the Trial
Court granted a defense non-suit as to three other plaintiffs.
Finally, the jury found in favor of all cross-defendants. Costs
remain to be assessed against the defendants General Dynamics and
Veitch. The defendants have announced they will file motions for
New Trial, JNOV and Remittitur.