Whistleblower: Vice president blows the whistle on CEO, is fired. $4.8M.


A senior VP says her boss was acting illegally in his capacity as CEO; she is later fired and claims retaliation.

The Case

  • Case Name: Cunning v. Skye Bioscience, Inc.
  • Court and Case Number: U.S. District Court, Central District of California / 8:21-cv-00710-DOC-KES
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, January 18, 2023
  • Date Action was Filed: Friday, April 16, 2021
  • Type of Case: Whistleblower
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. David O. Carter
  • Plaintiffs:
    Ms. Cunning, female 50's
  • Defendants:
    Skye Bioscience, Inc.
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $4,853,460
  • Economic Damages:


  • Non-Economic Damages:


  • Punitive Damages:


  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 4 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 3-4 hours

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Altus Law Firm by Andrew J. Jaramillo and Sean T. Nguyen, Irvine.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, PC by Ryan H. Crosner and Chloe S. Chang, Los Angeles.

    Klatte, Budensiek & Young-Agriesti, LLP by Summer Young-Agriesti, Huntington Beach.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff, a female age 50s,  was a vice president of business operations for defendant Skye Bioscience, Inc. She began working for the company in March of 2018. Her employment was terminated on July 18, 2019, after she protested and complained about multiple company actions she believed constituted legal violations.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff contended that, during her employment, she protested and resisted actions by defendant's chief executive officer that she reasonably believed were illegal. These alleged illegal activities included self-dealing, insider trading, and investor fraud. Plaintiff brought claims for whistleblower retaliation under the federal Sarbanes-Oxley Act, 18 U.S.C. §1514A, and the California Whistleblower Protection Act, Cal. Lab. Code § 1102.5.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant denied all of plaintiff's allegations and maintained that her employment was terminated for legitimate business reasons.