Dentist sexually harasses assistant. $1.7 million bench verdict. San Bernardino County.
Dental assistant says she was repeatedly touched and otherwise harassed by the dentist; constructive termination when she refuses to go to Las Vegas for a second time.
- Case Name: Juddy Olivares v. Sam Dason and Sam Daniel Dason DDS, A Professional Dental Corporation
- Court and Case Number: San Bernardino Superior Court / CIVDS1300810
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, February 25, 2016
- Date Action was Filed: Thursday, January 24, 2013
- Type of Case: Employment, Sexual Harassment
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. John M. Pacheco
Plaintiffs: Juddy Olivares, 28, female, dental assistant
Defendants: Sam Dason, 58, male, dentist
- Type of Result: Bench Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $1,742,690.94
Award as to each Defendant:
$1,724,996.34 against both Sam Dason and Sam Daniel Dason DDS, A Professional Dental Corporation, jointly and severally; and, $17,694.60 only against Sam Daniel Dason DDS, A Professional Dental Corporation.
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 1 day.
- Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: $592,160.00 in attorney's fees with 2.0 lodestar multiplier.
Attorney for the Plaintiff:
DesJardins & Panitz LLP by Eric A. Panitz, Cerritos.
McNicholas & McNicholas LLP by Patrick McNicholas, Los Angeles.
Attorney for the Defendant:
Javier Garibay, Whittier (for Sam Daniel Dason DDS, A Professional Dental Corporation).
Law Office of Dennis Rasmussen by Dennis Rasmussen, Hemet (for Sam Dason).
Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Dr. Michael E. Kania, Ph.D., psychology, Redlands.
Facts and Background
Facts and Background:
Between October 2010 and January 2013, plaintiff worked as a dental assistant and back office manager for defendant, Sam Daniel Dason, DDS, A Professional Dental Corporation doing business as Colton Dental Group (“CDG”). Plaintiff was a single mother in her early twenties, and this position was her first in the dental field following her graduation from dental school.
She resigned claiming constructive termination in January 2013.
That she was sexually harassed over a long period and then constructively terminated when Dason made her employment benefits contingent on traveling to Las Vegas with him when his wife was away.
Plaintiff claimed that, throughout her employment with CDG, she was subjected to offensive sexual comments and inquiries, and other unwelcome sexually-based, offensive conduct by defendant Sam Dason, the individual who owns CDG.
Specifically, the owner defendant would make sexual jokes, sexual comments, leer at her, inquire about private sexual topics, and on multiple occasions, grabbed plaintiff's breast and buttocks. Plaintiff complained to her manager, Cesar, but he failed to take sufficient action to stop the harassment.
In May 2011, defendant Dason invited plaintiff to a dental convention in Las Vegas. Dason told plaintiff that employees from his San Bernardino office would also be coming and that another dentist and his wife would join them. Plaintiff did not know any of the employees in Dason's San Bernardino office, but she had never been to a dental convention, so she agreed to go if she could convince her coworker, Karen to join her. Plaintiff asked Karen, who had to check with her parents, and Karen later agreed to go.
On the way to Vegas, plaintiff and Karen learned that the other dentist and his wife would not be joining them. The following morning, while in Vegas, plaintiff and Karen learned that there was no dental convention. Dason took them zip lining instead. After zip lining, and without their knowledge of what kind of show it was, Dason took plaintiff and Karen to a topless show called Peep Show, which featured female nudity. Attending this show was very uncomfortable for both plaintiff and her coworker, Karen.
Thereafter, while back at work, Dason began tickling plaintiff under her arms at work. Dason also stared at plaintiff's breasts in a sexual way, and said "Ooh, Mommy, Mommy" on multiple occasions. Next Dason began to touch plaintiff's bare knee through the hole in her jeans when she wore jeans to work on casual Fridays. At one point, while plaintiff was yawning, Dason stuck his finger in her mouth and touched her tongue, and said, "Ooh, your tongue is so soft."
Then, beginning on or about April 2012, plaintiff was subjected to repeated unwelcome sexual touching at the hands of defendant Dason. In April 2012, as plaintiff was developing an X-ray during a root canal, Dason grabbed plaintiff’s buttocks. After the root canal, Dason apologized, and promised not to do it again. At the time, plaintiff believed him, and she needed to keep her job to support her daughter.
Several months later, in June or July 2012, as plaintiff attempted to turn off an air conditioner at the end of the day, Dason grabbed her buttocks and laughed. In response, plaintiff again went to her manager, Cesar, and related what had happened. Cesar told plaintiff that she should talk to Dason but she refused. Then, in November 2012, as plaintiff reached for gloves, Dason again grabbed her buttocks. One week later, as Dason was leaving the office, he grabbed plaintiff’s right breast and then walked out the door.
On December 7, 2012, plaintiff confronted Dason about touching her breast and buttocks. In response, Dason stated that because plaintiff has an attractive smile, he slips, and it is hard for him to stay away. He apologized, and once again promised to try not to behave inappropriately.
Plaintiff contended that in January 2013, as plaintiff requested a raise, Dason stated that her raise would be dependent upon her agreeing to go to Las Vegas with him when his wife goes to India. Plaintiff was speechless, and did not respond.
Denied the allegations.
Injuries and Other Damages
Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Dr. Kania testified that plaintiff suffered from major depressive disorder brought about by the sexual harassment. Dr. Kania also testified that there was an indication that plaintiff is also experiencing symptoms suggestive of a post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: $10,000
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $6,735.22
Demands and Offers
- Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $235,000.00 in October 2014.
- Defendant §998 Offer: $50,000.00 in May 2015.
On January 15, 2016, following defendants' repeated failure to comply with a Court Order regarding discovery after plaintiff's motion to compel, the Court issued terminating sanctions against defendants as to plaintiff's Labor Code causes of action only.