San Diego Gas & Electric Ordered to Pay $1.3 Million in Punitive Damages

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David Bryant was a long time employee for San Diego Gas & Electric. Over the course of his career there he rose to the level of a billing supervisor. In that position, he was uniquely poised to notice what he deemed to be an unethical practice that was adopted by the utility some time in 2008.

According to Bryant, sometime in 2008 managers at the utility began instructing workers to hand deliver delinquent notices to customers in high-density, low income areas, such as Central San Diego, a practice for which the utility could charge up to $9 per notice.

While the practice would have been a money-maker, it didn’t seem fair to Mr. Bryant. Targeting low income families, who are less likely to complain but can ill afford the added fees wasn’t a practice he felt comfortable with. The other reason the utility targeted low income/high -density locations was because they could deliver a much larger number of notices by hand in high density areas than they could in normal neighborhoods. Mr. Bryant complained to his supervisors about who was getting the notices. He was then fired.

He filed suit for wrongful termination, retaliation and several other causes of action. The case went to trial and the jury found in favor of Mr. Bryant on three of the four counts, awarding $860,000 in compensatory damages and $1.3 million in punitive damages. They decided that the utility had, in fact, retaliated and wrongfully terminated him.

After receiving the verdict, a spokesperson for SDG&E said that the company “strongly disagreed” with the finding and planned to appeal. They insisted that Mr. Bryant had been terminated for extremely inappropriate behavior and that they had investigated Mr. Bryant’s claims thoroughly, but found them to be without merit.

To date, no appeal appears in the Appellate Court records.

If you feel that you have information that your employer is acting in an unlawful, illegal or unethical manner and wish to ‘blow the whistle,’ contact the law offices of Stephen Danz & Associates at (877) 789-9707 or use the Contact Form on our website to schedule a free consultation. Stephen Danz is one of the premiere whistleblower attorneys in the state, having defended employees around the globe in multi-million dollar cases against their employers. He is also an experienced retaliation lawyer with more than 30 years of practice defending employees from the unlawful acts of their employers.

Stephen, along with one of his senior associates, will meet with you at a location that is convenient to your work, school or home to discuss the facts of your case. He will outline any potential claims you may have and help devise a plan of action for gathering evidence. DO NOT begin to gather evidence before you have spoken to an experienced employment law attorney. Mis-gathered documentation can result in a dismissal of your case before it even has a chance to be heard.

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