NOTABLE EMPLOYMENT, CIVIL RIGHTS, AND CRIMINAL DEFENSE TRIALS, VERDICTS AND SETTLEMENTS:
Amanda Wilson v. Jonathan Pauling, et al.
On October 23, 2015, we obtained a jury verdict of $3,982,136. Our client Amanda Wilson had been violently sexually assaulted, strangled, and bitten by her boss, Jonathan Pauling, causing her significant emotional and psychological distress as well as the loss of her job. A Denver District Court jury found for Ms. Wilson on three claims for relief: assault, battery, and intentional interference with contract. The jury found that not only had Jonathan Pauling engaged in offensive contact with Ms. Wilson, but that he put her in fear for her life, awarding her $1,300,000 for her assault claim in addition to $1,682,136 on her battery claim. Moreover, the jury held Mr. Pauling responsible for Ms. Wilson’s inability to return to work, awarding her $1,000,000 after she testified that no one could go back to work after their boss rapes them.
Ms. Wilson stands as a beacon to the community of survivors of sexual assault, many of whom are women whose voices are all too often silenced. After indicating that no one would believe Ms. Wilson’s story – the story of a former exotic dancer – the Denver DA lowered the charges against Mr. Pauling from felony sexual assault to misdemeanor unlawful sexual contact. Mr. Pauling spent mere hours in jail because he was a wealthy businessman who convinced the DA that incarceration would negatively impact his professional interests. Ms. Wilson, like many other survivors, found no voice through the criminal justice system. And after turning to the civil system, Mr. Pauling attempted to win his case through victim blaming, insisting that Ms. Wilson seduced him, that she forced him to rape her. The jury was not convinced. Through Ms. Wilson’s case, the Denver community has sent a message loud and clear to perpetrators of sexual assault that their actions will not be tolerated, and it has encouraged survivors that they can and should speak up.
Jamal Hunter v. The City and County of Denver, et al.
On July 18, 2011, Jamal Hunter screamed for help as he was beaten and his genitals were scalded with boiling water by fellow inmates. Denver Sheriff deputies failed to intervene or perform adequate rounds during Mr. Hunter’s brutal assault and scalding. On July 31, 2011, one week after he was released from the hospital, Mr. Hunter was assaulted, choked, and tasered by other Denver Sheriff’s deputies. This incident was caught on video. The law firm of Rathod | Mohamedbhai LLC brought civil rights claims for failure to protect, excessive force, failure to train and supervise, and failure to address unlawful systemic and cultural issues within the Denver Detention Center. During the litigation, a key witness was threatened by two Denver Police officers, and documents were hidden, which resulted in Denver’s private lawyers withdrawing from the case and a federal judge unsealing numerous documents. The judge also requested a criminal investigation into the two Denver Police officers and a federal investigation into the Denver Sheriff Department and Denver Police Department. This high profile lawsuit shed much light upon the corruption within the City and County of Denver, including the smuggling of contraband into the jail by a deputy and widespread failure to discipline deputies and investigate inmate complaints of abuse. This case, which garnered national attention, resulted in the requested resignation the Denver Sheriff, and required external investigations into the practices of the Denver Sheriff Department, Denver Police Department, and Denver City Attorney’s Office. In August 2014, the case settled for $3.25 million, which is considered the largest civil rights settlement in the history of the City and County of Denver.
Susan Chandler v. Adams 14 School District, et al.
Dr. Susan Chandler, former superintendent, through her attorneys Rathod | Mohamedbhai LLC and Adams 14 School District, through its attorneys, have negotiated a resolution of the claims arising from Dr. Chandler’s employment. The District adamantly denies Dr. Chandler’s claims of wrongful termination and maintains it elected not to renew her contract because the District needed a change in leadership. Its contribution of $380,000 to the total settlement is for the sole purpose of avoiding the expense and time associated with litigation. It was publicly reported that the total settlement for Dr. Chandler was $700,000.00.
Jane Doe v. XYZ Corporation, et al., (Confidential Settlement):
In 2011, Ms. Doe was assaulted in a domestic violence incident outside of work by a co-worker. Criminal charges were filed and a restraining order was put into place prohibiting the co-worker from being within 100 yards of Ms. Doe. XYZ Corporation then began a campaign of harassing and intimidating Ms. Doe, required her to have the restraining order modified to allow her attacker to come back to work, and was eventually fired. The law firm of Rathod | Mohamedbhai LLC brought claims of gender discrimination and retaliation under Title VII, Wrongful Discharge in Violation of Public Policy, Intentional Interference with Contract, and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress. The case settled for $850,000.00.
Ortega et al. v. The City and County of Denver et al.
This lawsuit was well known through Colorado and the nation as the Denver Diner case. On July 12, 2009, a Denver Police Department officer worked off-duty security at the Denver Diner restaurant when he encountered our client being attacked by another patron. The lawsuit alleged that he dragged our client outside while her friend followed and protested the officer’s conduct. At the same time, another two of our clients arrived in a bicycle cab in front of the Diner. As the two women approached the entrance, a second Denver Police Officer, who arrived as backup, barreled through them. When our client protested being shoved, the lawsuit alleged that both officers responded with an onslaught of excessive and unnecessary force, including haphazard pepper spraying, shoving our clients to the ground, picking one up by her neck and punching another in the face while handcuffed. The incident was captured by a High Activity Location Observation (HALO) camera. Initially hidden by Denver, the surveillance tape was released nearly two years after the event.
The case garnered widespread public and media attention, not only for the egregious incident, but also for exposing the Denver Police Department’s failure to address its systematic problem of unbridled police brutality. The lawsuit alleged that the officers falsified accounts of the assault of the four women in their reports, omitting numerous details of the force they exercised. The two officers were eventually fired only after their conduct was brought to light through the lawsuit.
This lawsuit required the interviews hundreds of witnesses and review of over one hundred thousand pages of discovery. Uncovering substantial evidence proving that Denver trains its officers to engage in excessive force, Denver officers culturally fail to report excessive force by other officers, and that Denver’s Internal Affairs Bureau routinely whitewashes police misconduct and fails to investigate community complaints.
The Honorable William Martinez of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado allowed municipal liability claims to proceed to trial “based on Denver’s custom of failing to adequately and timely investigate citizen complaints for excessive force and to timely and properly discipline the officers implicated therein.”
The case settled for $360,000 prior to trial. Because of the lawsuit’s exposure of failure to properly train and discipline its officers, Denver has instituted broad changes including the overhaul of the entire Denver Police Department disciplinary hearing system allowing for faster, expedient and robust discipline. The work in this case resulted in this law firm being co-awarded the 2013 Colorado Trial Lawyer Association Case of Year.
Jane Doe, et al. v. County of XYZ, et al., (Confidential Settlement):
In 2012, Ms. Doe was incarcerated by the County of XYZ. While incarcerated she was subject to unwanted and harmful medical treatment. She was further forcibly strip and cavity searched by three law enforcement officers, including one male. The law firm of Rathod | Mohamedbhai LLC raised claims of violation of the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution pursuant to 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983 and violations of Colorado Revised Statute § 16–3-405(2), regarding strip searches. The case settled for $250,000.00.
Jane Doe, et al. v. XYZ Corporation, (Confidential Settlement):
In 2010, Ms. Doe was evicted, on Christmas Eve, from her residence based on her disability and for having a service animal. The law firm of Rathod | Mohamedbhai LLC filed charges under Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act (Fair Housing Act), 42 U.S.C.A. § 3602(h). The case settled for $200,000.00.
Jane Doe, et al. v. XYZ Corporation, (Confidential Settlement):
In 2011, three long time female workers experienced gender discrimination at the hands of a male supervisor. One of the three women was terminated. The law firm of Rathod | Mohamedbhai LLC brought claims of gender discrimination and retaliation under Title VII and Intentional Interference with Contract. The case settled for $275,000.00.
People v. Franklin Sain, 13CR00988
In 2013, in opposition to proposed legislation regarding gun control, Mr. Sain sent several offensive and profane communications to Representative Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora), one of the sponsors of the legislation. The Denver District Attorney’s Office charged Mr. Sain with attempting to influence a public servant, a felony, as well as harassment involving ethnic intimidation, a misdemeanor. Due to the high-profile nature of the gun control debate, the case drew significant media attention both in Colorado and nationally. The law firm of Rathod ǀ Mohamedbhai LLC defended Mr. Sain on the grounds that his speech, although offensive, was protected under the First Amendment. After litigating the case for several months, the District Attorney’s Office dismissed all charges against Mr. Sain.
People v. John Copeland, 13CR00035
Mr. Copeland, an 85-year old disabled Korean war veteran, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon when he struck a plain-clothes volunteer officer with his cane. Mr. Copeland admitted that he struck the volunteer with his case, but did so out of self-defense. The law firm of Rathod ǀ Mohamedbhai LLC represented Mr. Copeland pro bono. The team at Rathod ǀ Mohamedbhai LLC conducted an extensive investigation resulting in numerous witnesses coming forward and supporting Mr. Copeland’s theory of the case. Shortly before trial, in the face of unsurmountable evidence and the deteriorating health of an elderly defendant, the District Attorney’s Office dismissed the charges against Mr. Copeland.
*Disclaimer: Rathod | Mohamedbhai LLC does not guarantee specific results based on previous case results. Individual results vary on a case by case basis.