Passenger van driver tells passenger of depression and is fired. $1.2 million. Los Angeles County.


Van driver allegedly tells passenger of his depression and suicidal thoughts around the holidays; is later fired.

The Case

  • Case Name: Francisco Tapia v. San Gabriel Transit, Inc.
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC482433
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Monday, November 16, 2015
  • Date Action was Filed: Friday, April 06, 2012
  • Type of Case: Employment, Wrongful Termination
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Yvette Palazuelos
  • Plaintiffs:
    Francisco Tapia, 46, bus driver
  • Defendants:
    San Gabriel Transit, Inc.
    Access Services
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $1,289,849
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    $1.289 million against Defendant San Gabriel Transit.

    Defendant Access Services is a quasi-governmental entity that contracts with San Gabriel Transit to provide paratransit services to disabled individuals throughout Southern California. Plaintiff argued that both San Gabriel Transit and Access were his employer (dual-employers).  Jury found that Access was not plaintiff’s employer.

  • Economic Damages:


  • Non-Economic Damages:


  • Punitive Damages:


  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 7 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 day
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Attorneys' fees motion by plaintiff's counsel will be filed.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Alder Law by Lauri L. Brenner and Marni Folinsky, Los Angeles.

    Factum Law Group by Frank Alfonso, Pasadena.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Manookian & Keshishian, APLC by Arno Keshishian, Glendale.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Anthony Reading, Ph.D., psychology, Beverly Hills.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):


  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Timothy Lanning, Ph.D., economics, Los Angeles.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):


Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff, Francisco Tapia, worked as a van driver for defendant for approximately 9 years before being fired. Shortly before the Christmas holidays he told a passenger that during the holiday he would become depressed and has thought of suicide. The passenger called plaintiff's employer to advise them of this comment. Defendant placed Mr. Tapia on a medical leave and fired him shortly thereafter.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff contends he was fired due to his mental disability.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant contends they fired plaintiff because they had received a call from another passenger that plaintiff was coming to her home uninvited, and fired plaintiff for that reason, not because of his depression and alleged suicidal thoughts.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Emotional distress.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff Demand during Trial: $500,000