SAN FRANCISCO — Lawrence Livermore National Security LLC won a unanimous defense verdict on Friday from an Oakland jury, which sided with the nuclear weapons lab that mass layoffs in 2008 did not unfairly impact older workers.
The eight-week trial concluded the second phase of Andrews v. Lawrence Livermore and resolves the allegations of five plaintiffs who claimed their layoffs following the lab’s privatization violated a host of state employment laws.
In May, a jury awarded plaintiffs $2.8 million in economic damages after finding that the lab had illegally breached their employment contracts. However, the second jury rejected plaintiffs’ age-based disparate impact claims, dashing their demands for $25 million in emotional distress damages.
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe partners Andrew Livingston and Warrington Parker led Lawrence Livermore’s defense. In an interview on Monday, Livingston credited the victory to a defense focused on the data.
“We were able to rebut their statistical evidence that [plaintiffs] said showed adverse impact,” said Livingston.
Plaintiffs attorney Gary Gwilliam of Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer had argued that the private consortium which now runs the lab gave managers discretion as to who would be laid off. Their choices fell disproportionately on workers over 40, Gwilliam argued.
But the Oakland-based lawyer acknowledged that the jury didn’t see the data the same way.
“We know pretty much what the jury did,” Gwilliam said on Monday. “They didn’t think our expert made it for us.”
Gwilliam added: “It is important to note that this was phase two of one trial and that we won the first phase, so there will still be a judgment for the plaintiffs in the case. In other words this was not a ‘defense verdict.’”
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman presided over both phases of the trial. More than 120 former lab workers are pursuing similar claims.
“We believe that this jury verdict directly impacts their claims as well,” Livingston said.
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