Judge overturns $15.4-million award to ex-Times sports columnist T.J. Simers

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Judge overturns $15.4-million award to ex-Times sports columnist T.J. Simers

A Los Angeles judge has overturned a jury’s award of $15.4 million in damages to former Times sports columnist T.J. Simers against the newspaper for age and disability discrimination, saying the amount was not justified because of misconduct by the plaintiff’s attorney and that the award was excessive.

Superior Court Judge William A. MacLaughlin ordered that a new trial be held in regard to what damages Simers should receive related to his claim. Simers said he was demoted in 2013 from columnist to a reporter once he developed health problems.

“Plaintiff is entitled to substantial compensation, but the damages awarded by the jury are excessive and cannot be justified by the evidence,” the judge ruled.

Simers’ attorneys could not immediately be reached for comment.

It would be the third time a jury must consider the sole issue of damages in the case. An appeals court has already upheld a verdict that Simers suffered age and disability discrimination at the newspaper.

In the most recent case, a jury in August awarded Simers more than $15 million in damages. But in his Dec. 23 ruling, McLaughlin overturned the award and issued a scathing rebuke of Simers’ attorney.

Specifically, the judge faulted the attorney for presenting evidence about the newspaper’s finances to jurors. MacLaughlin said information about the paper’s finances should not have been presented to jurors or considered when determining damages.“The misconduct of [Simer’s] counsel, which had no basis whatsoever in the evidence and violated the Court’s instruction that the jury should not consider the Defendant’s wealth, […]

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