Court Affirms $2.9 Million Verdict Against Employer That Failed To Obtain Green Card For Employee

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Reynaud v. Technicolor Creative Servs. USA, Inc., 46 Cal. App. 5th 1007 (2020)

Plaintiffs Michael and Fiona Reynaud (both British citizens) sued Michael’s former employer, Technicolor, for negligence based upon its failure to timely obtain a green card for Michael, which would have permitted him to remain in the United States. Although Technicolor had agreed to sponsor Michael’s green card, as a result of a number of delays on the part of Technicolor and its outside counsel, he did not obtain a green card before his temporary work visa expired. Consequently, the Reynauds and their children (including one who was born in the United States) were required to leave the country. Although Technicolor originally indicated that Michael could continue working for the company after he returned to the United Kingdom, it ultimately decided not to continue to employ him past the expiration of his temporary work visa. The Reynauds sued Technicolor for negligence, and a jury awarded them $804,000 in economic damages and $2.08 million in emotional distress damages. The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment, holding that substantial evidence supported the verdict and that workers’ compensation did not provide the exclusive remedy for the Reynauds’ emotional distress damages because their injuries did not arise out of Michael’s job-related duties or responsibilities. See another post-verdict decision: Colucci v. T-Mobile USA, Inc., 2020 WL 2059849 (Cal. Ct. App. 2020) (court reduces punitive damages award to 1.5 times the amount of compensatory damages in case involving alleged retaliation in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act).

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