A Snapshot of Success: Michael Axel v. Fields Motorcars of Florida
Although we don’t normally highlight our successes here, the results of this case were so substantial that we had to share the good news.
Michael Axel v. Fields Motorcars of Florida was a heated employment discrimination case concerning a possible wrongful termination situation. In a nutshell, Michael Axel, the Plaintiff, accused the defendant, Fields Motorcars, of age discrimination and disability/handicap discrimination – terminating him as a direct result of his time and work missed while battling cancer. Ultimately, the jury came back and found the case in favor of the defendant in the age discrimination claims, but found it in favor of the plaintiff in his disability/handicap discrimination claim.
As a result, the defendant was ordered to pay plaintiff the following:
- $680,000 in back pay
- $600,000 in emotional pain and suffering damages
- $3,220,000 in punitive damages, later reduced to $100,000 due to the statutory cap to punitive damages under the Florida Civil Rights Act.
Before the cap on damages, that is an eye-opening $4.5 million verdict on behalf of our client.
The Post-Trial Motion
Following this trial was a series of post-trial motions by both the defendant and the plaintiff.
- The defendant filed a motion for judgement as a matter of law, along with a motion for a new trial. The former was a motion arguing that the plaintiff does not have enough evidence to support the case, while the latter was a push for a new trial on what the defendant considered to be an excessive amount of damages.
- The plaintiff filed a motion for front pay and interest – specifically, both pre- and post-judgment interest.
After deliberation and discussion, the results of the post-trial motion went overwhelmingly in favor of the plaintiff.
Both of the defendants’ motions were summarily denied. Regarding the motion for judgment as a matter of law, the courts agreed that they had more than enough evidence to prove the plaintiff was terminated due to his disability/handicap. The motion for a new trial was rejected as well, on the basis that the damages were, in fact, on par with calculations of back pay, pain and suffering, and other compensation.
The plaintiff’s motion for front pay and interest was partially granted. The motion for front pay was denied, but the court determined that the plaintiff was entitled to a reinstatement at the defendant’s company. The motion for interest, however, was approved: according to the courts, the plaintiff is entitled to both pre-judgement and post-judgement interest.
Overall, the plaintiff was entitled to $1,380,000 in damages, plus pre-judgement interest of $44,546 and additional post-judgement interest on the total recovery, less pre-judgement.
Why Is This Important?
Without clear and overwhelming evidence supporting them, employment discrimination cases can be incredibly difficult to win. This case is significant in that it was a complete success for the plaintiff. From the initial judgement to the post-trial, it was a thorough, comprehensive decision in our favor.
Additionally, most juries do tend to be more receptive to disability discrimination cases – especially in cases where serious illnesses such as cancer are involved. This was clearly not the case in Axel v. Fields Motorcars. By rejecting the case for age discrimination but ruling in favor of disability discrimination, the jury showed a sense of unbiased thoughtfulness and rational thinking through the proceedings.
In obtaining an incredibly large verdict for our client, we were not only able to post a huge win for us, but also able to give the plaintiff the closure and compensation that he deserves. We strive to fight with our clients to always receive the recovery to which they’re rightfully entitled, especially in times of crisis and need.