Spanking verdict reversed

Saturday, March 1, 2008

ANAHEIM, Calif.--Alarm One, an alarm company successfully sued in 2006 for $1.7 million due to sexual harassment and humiliation suffered by a former alarm saleswoman, has succeeded in getting that verdict reversed--at least for the moment.
On Jan. 17, a Fresno appeals court overturned the verdict, saying the jury was given the wrong instructions in the original trial.
Poncho Baker, the attorney who represented Alarm One in 2006, said the jury was instructed to determine if the saleswoman, Janet Orlando, was sexually harassed when she was spanked at "camaraderie-building" sales meetings. The jury should have been instructed to determine if she was sexually harassed "because of her gender."
Baker said both men and women were "spanked and were the spankers."
Baker said he believes all of Alarm One's insurance money was gone because it had previously settled similar suits with "three other girls." He said he referred to them as "girls" "because they are in their early 20s."
He said Orlando was "around 55 [years old]" and was a supervisor who "jumped on the bandwagon" after the other younger employees successfully reached financial settlements with Alarm One.
He said, "She went on national TV and said it's not about the money, well, we'll see if it's about the money or not."
Nicholas Wagner, Orlando's attorney, said the case will be retried within the year and he did not believe the jury was given the wrong instructions.
Asked why he thought the appeals court decided to reverse the verdict, he chocked it up to the "ideology of the judge," saying the judge "bent over backwards to throw out the verdict and have it retried."
"I'm kind of surprised that the court has taken the position that, if men and woman are harassed the same way, then it's OK," Wagner told a Fresno paper.
Alarm One chief operating officer Patrick Smith did not return a call for comment. Some reports have said that
Alarm One is in bankruptcy. It has closed its Fresno office, but both Wagner and Baker said they had no knowledge that the company had filed bankruptcy.