One of my recent clients mentioned to me about the mistake she made hiring a family law lawyer for her divorce just because he made an impression on her of being fearless, very aggressive and confident in his success. It took many months and many thousands of dollars for the woman to realize that the lawyer is artfully "milking" her at an hourly rate of $375, by continuing to convince her not to accept a reasonable settlement and go to trial.
Eventually, due to a fall-out, she switched attorneys and was surprised as to how much more mellow the new attorney was. At first it was alarming to her, but as she continued to work with him, she realized how much more competent her new lawyer was. The settlement was reached shortly after to my client's satisfaction. She related to me that the response of her ex husband and the opposing attorney to her new lawyers was completely different and they got along much better right away because her new lawyer did not engage in pointless arguments or personal attacks against the other side like her prior attorney did.
My client learned a very important lesson from her personal experience being represented by an attorney - having a bad relationship with the opposing side has no benefits to the case. At the end of the day, everyone is interested in some kind of resolution, which means a transfer of money from one set of hands to the other. That transfer is much more likely to happen if there is a good relationship between the parties, no matter how contentious the legal issues are, because any person is more likely to give and compromise with someone they respect rather than someone they can't stand, and as a result want to harm financially any way they can.
On Friday, June 11, 2010, the Eastern District Court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss my client's case. I had a feeling that it was going to happen but was willing to give it a shot, hoping that perhaps the judge will have a more liberal view of the claims asserted than he actually did.
My client was a loss prevention agent, working for one of the large security companies at a department store in Sacramento. He was terminated shortly after complaining to the corporate management about his co-workers and his immediate supervisor's time clock fraud and reporting false apprehensions of shoplifters that didn't actually happen. The formal reason for terminating my client was his "failure to meet apprehension goals" which is inherently nonsensical, as a loss prevention agent has no control over how many people actually try to steal merchandise from the store. The court found that preventing internal fraud that only affects the private employer and not public interest at large is not sufficient to give rise to a public policy retaliation and wrongful termination claim.
I was disappointed at the impunity that the employer will enjoy in this case, even though a number of witnesses informed me that my client's termination was orchestrated and there was a significant concern about him knowing about the misrepresentation.
Below is the court's order which includes the brief factual background of the case and the court's decision and analysis.