Janitor with shoulder injury claims wrongful termination. $1.1M. San Diego County.


Stellar employee takes time off to treat for shoulder injury, suffers retaliation and termination.

The Case

  • Case Name: Maria Guerrero v. Able Engineering Inc.
  • Court and Case Number: San Diego Superior Court / 37-2017-00020532-CU-WT-CTL
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Wednesday, April 03, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, June 07, 2017
  • Type of Case: Employment, Wrongful Termination
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Kenneth Medel
  • Plaintiffs:
    Maria Guerrero, 63.
  • Defendants:
    Able Engineering Inc.
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $1,107,855.60
  • Economic Damages:

    Past lost wages: $19,494

    Future lost wages: $38,361.60

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past noneconomic: $100,000

    Future noneconomic: $50,000

  • Punitive Damages:


  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 9 days.
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Plaintiff's motion for attorney's fees is pending.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Gruenberg Law by Josh Pang, Pam Vallero and Josh Gruenberg, San Diego.


  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Ogletree Deakins by Frank Tobin and Jennifer Hendricks, San Diego.


The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Emily Churchill, M.D., internal medicine, San Diego. (Treating physician.)

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff worked as a janitor at 655 West Broadway in downtown San Diego  for 11 years. She developed a shoulder injury and began to take off time from work for doctor's appointments.  

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That despite accruing hundreds of hours of "sick time," defendant company suddenly began to retaliate against plaintiff with concocted write-ups, unwarranted suspensions without pay, bogus investigations and her ultimate termination. That plaintiff  indisputedly had been a stellar employee for the first 10 1/2 years of her employment. In the last half-year of her employment, plaintiff received four written warnings, including two suspensions, before being terminated.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendants maintained that the disciplinary actions were justified, and her termination was, in fact, a “layoff.”  Defendants also disputed that plaintiff suffered a disability.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: $165,000 - two weeks prior to trial.
  • Defendant §998 Offer: $7,500 plus reasonable attorneys' fees.
  • Defendant Final Offer before Trial: $25,000 - two weeks prior to trial.