Sommese v. C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc.

Gregory S. Schaer, a Monmouth County based New Jersey Employment Attorney located in Manalapan, represented the employee in a lawsuit against their employer alleging claims of retaliation.

On November 4, 2005, a seven-member jury awarded in excess of $1.2 million dollars for retaliation and wrongful termination to an employee of C&S Wholesale Grocers, one of the largest privately held companies in the United States and a wholesaler and distributor of grocery products. The Company operates warehousing facilities along the East Coast including several facilities in New Jersey including in Avenel, New Brunswick, North Brunswick and Dayton.

The trial, which took place in the Superior Court of New Jersey between October 11th and November 4th, resulted from a lawsuit filed by Sommese in January 2003 alleging that he had been fired from his position as a refrigeration mechanic as a result of having disclosed various refrigeration practices of the Company that Sommese claimed were illegal and in violation of federal laws including the Clean Air Act.

Sommese alleged that the Company was engaged in widespread illegal practices including the venting of refrigerant into the atmosphere as well as the failure to repair widespread leaks in the Company’s refrigeration equipment. Sommese alleged that following his complaints and refusal to participate in these activities, he was subjected to a pattern of retaliatory conduct and ultimately was terminated.

In addition to finding that Sommese had been terminated as a result of his objections to the alleged illegal activities, the jury also found that the Company discriminated against Sommese as a result of a medical condition that he sustained as a result of a work related injury and also that the Company retaliated against Sommese for having filed a worker’s compensation claim as a result of that injury. The jury awarded Sommese $188,000 for past wage loss, $752,000 for future wage loss and $275,000 for pain, suffering and emotional distress.

Following the liability phase of the trial, the jury awarded an additional $250,000 in punitive damages. Punitive damages are additional damages that can be awarded in certain cases to punish a defendant who has been found to have acted in an egregious manner and to deter others from engaging in such conduct in the future.

To speak with an experienced New Jersey Employment Law Attorney, contact the Law Offices of Gregory S. Schaer, LLC, conveniently located in Monmouth County, New Jersey.

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