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Old 14th September 2012, 10:27   #1
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Default Judge Awards $1.5 Million To Nissan Dealership That Fired A Woman With Cancer

I did a double take when I read this news piece on Jalopnik. My left brain had automaticaly assumed that it was the cancer-ridden woman who got the $1.5 million damages!

Apparently not.
Quote:
A Massachusetts judge decided that there was more going on than meets the eye between Norwood, Mass.-based Clay Nissan and Jill Colter, a service department employee who was fired from the dealership in the midst of cancer treatment.

On Monday, Colter's brothers, Adam and Jonathan, were ordered by the court to pay Clay Nissan $1.5 million for their role in initiating what the judge deemed a very damaging wave of negative attention toward the dealership. In the end, the dealership lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in business and suffered a barrage of angry correspondence over the summer.
The superior court judge not only ruled in favor of Clay Nissan when the dealership sued the Colter family for what it said was a social media-based smear campaign, but ruled that the Colters' internet based call for a boycott of the dealership was defamatory.
More here.

Seems a little unfair to me. The dealership DID fire her. She DID have cancer- there is no disputing either of these facts. Jill Colter was on medical leave for 2 months and had come back to work just 3 weeks before being fired.

Where there's smoke there's fire. She was fired for having cancer. And that is illegal.

The judge seems to have focused here on the defamation that the dismissed woman's brothers engaged in that apparently caused the Nissan dealership to lose hundreds of thousands worth of business.

It's a lesson to us all. Normal reaction to any perceived injustice these days is to create a petition page and trumpet it to the world on Facebook and Twitter.

A compassionate judge would have probably ruled against the Colters and dismissed the case, but NOT inflicted such huge damages on them. The woman has cancer for God's sake. And she got fired. Doesn't she have enough problems?

Last edited by noopster : 14th September 2012 at 10:29.
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Old 14th September 2012, 10:50   #2
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Default Re: Judge Awards $1.5 Million To Nissan Dealership That Fired A Woman With Cancer

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Originally Posted by noopster View Post
The dealership DID fire her. She DID have cancer- there is no disputing either of these facts.
Okay. So did the dealerhip fire her Because she had cancer ?

If yes, then un-fair. There is quite a few logical comments in the responses posted on the link you have give. We cant be blaming the dealership - or the judges. I dont think the judges would have made a blunder ( I dont say judges dont) .. there is a lot depends on how the reporter presents the case & the outcome.
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Old 14th September 2012, 11:09   #3
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Default Re: Judge Awards $1.5 Million To Nissan Dealership That Fired A Woman With Cancer

I was 'bout to report the thread headline for poor grammar :P

The verdict though a little harsh, seems fine. People would've really turned up against the dealer for being non supportive of cancer-fighters.
Since they could never prove that they'd fired her due to the cancer, it seems okay. (Maybe a little off court work.)

This should be a good lesson to the ever suing American citizens.
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Old 14th September 2012, 11:13   #4
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Default Re: Judge Awards $1.5 Million To Nissan Dealership That Fired A Woman With Cancer

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Of great significance to the court, when pressed by counsel for Clay about his assertions that Clay had fired others because they had cancer, Adam Colter insisted that he had received e-mails from other former employees of Clay who had informed him that they had been fired by Clay because they had cancer. He insisted that he just needed a moment to look at his phone to retrieve the e-mails. When granted that opportunity, he did not produce those e-mails, claiming that they were on a different account that he could not access off his phone.

The court gave Adam Colter a week to submit the e-mails, which he never did. The judge concluded that the e-mails didn't exist.
Remember a case in the US where a robber was awarded damages because he got caught in a garage in the middle of a robbery because the garage door was faulty. Think he spent a day or two in there. Was awarded damages for the mental trauma !!!

No doubt the woman had cancer. But not sure if it can be proven that she was fired on account of having cancer. The US work policy is vastly different and I hope the judgement has got some merit.

Last edited by revintup : 14th September 2012 at 11:17. Reason: Added the quote
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Old 14th September 2012, 11:17   #5
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Default Re: Judge Awards $1.5 Million To Nissan Dealership That Fired A Woman With Cancer

I should clarify this statement:
Quote:
Where there's smoke there's fire. She was fired for having cancer. And that is illegal.
I couched it as a fact whereas it is an opinion. What I should have put was:
Quote:
Where there's smoke there's usually a fire. It appears to me that she was fired for having cancer but that is just an opinion based on what is reported. And I believe that is illegal, though I can't be sure.
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Old 14th September 2012, 11:48   #6
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Default Re: Judge Awards $1.5 Million To Nissan Dealership That Fired A Woman With Cancer

We have judges delivering judgement like the one above while we also have judiciary system letting Skoda and VW go free of any obligations to help customers.

I still believe Harsh and our new victim would be happy if they were born in USA.
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Old 15th September 2012, 04:19   #7
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Default Re: Judge Awards $1.5 Million To Nissan Dealership That Fired A Woman With Cancer

Quote:
Originally Posted by noopster View Post
...

Seems a little unfair to me. The dealership DID fire her. She DID have cancer- there is no disputing either of these facts. Jill Colter was on medical leave for 2 months and had come back to work just 3 weeks before being fired.

Where there's smoke there's fire. She was fired for having cancer. And that is illegal.

The judge seems to have focused here on the defamation that the dismissed woman's brothers engaged in that apparently caused the Nissan dealership to lose hundreds of thousands worth of business.

It's a lesson to us all. Normal reaction to any perceived injustice these days is to create a petition page and trumpet it to the world on Facebook and Twitter.

A compassionate judge would have probably ruled against the Colters and dismissed the case, but NOT inflicted such huge damages on them. The woman has cancer for God's sake. And she got fired. Doesn't she have enough problems?

I think there are certain facts here that the reporter of the article also doesn't dispute -
  1. The lady's manager (not the dealership owners) fired her for reasons unrelated to her disease
  2. The owners offered her the job back the same day she was fired
  3. The judge stated that the lady's family became aware of more facts later - that means there were more facts (at least to the satisfaction of the judge)
I think it would be very wrong to jump to the conclusion that she was fired because of her disease.




And cancer doesnt discriminate between rich and poor and nice folks and not-so-nice ones. So I think it would be wrong to sympathize just on the basis of the disease.
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Old 15th September 2012, 06:47   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noopster
I did a double take when I read this news piece on Jalopnik. My left brain had automaticaly assumed that it was the cancer-ridden woman who got the $1.5 million damages!

Apparently not.

More here.

Seems a little unfair to me. The dealership DID fire her. She DID have cancer- there is no disputing either of these facts. Jill Colter was on medical leave for 2 months and had come back to work just 3 weeks before being fired.

A compassionate judge would have probably ruled against the Colters and dismissed the case, but NOT inflicted such huge damages on them. The woman has cancer for God's sake. And she got fired.
I think that is to problem with most of us - we confuse compassion with justice and think that the weaker or poorer person is always right. It's the same attitude that causes people to always sympathise with the driver of the smaller vehicle in accidents (even when a pair of dolts trying to corner on a bike at 100 crash into a car), or with jay walkers (such as the GLC student who jumped over a 2.5 foot high divider on marine drive right in front of a car).

In this case, the manager of the dealership (not the owner) fired the lady because she was difficult to work with, and the owners offered her a job back as soon as they heard about it. She had been hired with the knowledge she had cancer.

Despite that, she did not accept the offers made by the owners, and her brothers launched an online campaign which misled people into believing that she had been fired because of her cancer (how could that be when she had been hired with the knowledge of her cancer) and that other employees had also been fired for the same reason. Hell, her brother seems to have committed perjury by falsely claiming in court he had emails from other fired cancer victims. I think justice has been done here (based on the story) and that her brothers a lucky to get away with just a fine and not a jail term for perjury.

Last edited by Hayek : 15th September 2012 at 06:49.
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Old 15th September 2012, 07:26   #9
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Default Re: Judge Awards $1.5 Million To Nissan Dealership That Fired A Woman With Cancer

sometimes i personally wish we had a justice system (At least the speed) like the USA in India... I am sure the whole ^ episode lasted a few months MAX!! I mean, how long it took to impeach (was it the word?) a perverted president?! I dont remember the mega-important case lasting more than 2-3 years...

family property cases, civil, simple theft and robbery cases are pending more than 10 years amongst lawyer/advocate friends of mine, no one cares!
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Old 15th September 2012, 09:16   #10
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Default Re: Judge Awards $1.5 Million To Nissan Dealership That Fired A Woman With Cancer

Are the brothers rich enough to pay so much? What if they are not? Do they have to serve a prison term?

To me, it seems like no bank will lend them so much money, because they have lost their credibility and they will never be able to pay the money back.
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Old 15th September 2012, 10:01   #11
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Default Re: Judge Awards $1.5 Million To Nissan Dealership That Fired A Woman With Cancer

^^ Hayek and others, I am not disputing that the brothers went overboard in their zeal to get 'justice'- in fact profiting out of one's perceived victimhood is nothing new. But did the judge really need to slap 1.5 MILLION dollars as damages on them? This is a family for god's sake, not a company with deep pockets.

Deterrent for frivolous litigation etc. is fine but in this case it was Case Nissan who was the plaintiff. Sure they "offered Jill her job back"- surely they could have gone one step further and NOT sued her family for everything they have and more!

I feel bad for the woman at the centre of it all. Bad enough to be struck down with cancer and then get fired a couple of weeks after you come back to it, then you're stuck with a militant family that spreads lies on your behalf, a former employer who takes you to the cleaners AND a hanging judge who takes your pants off while you are there!

Just my opinion.
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Old 15th September 2012, 12:01   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noopster

Deterrent for frivolous litigation etc. is fine but in this case it was Case Nissan who was the plaintiff. Sure they "offered Jill her job back"- surely they could have gone one step further and NOT sued her family for everything they have and more.
Certainly respect your opinion, and I agree that the lady in question has had a hard time. But from the report you linked to, Case Nissan seems to be a family owned dealership. The US auto dealership market, as far as I am aware, is highly competitive - I am not sure if a small family owned dealership (assuming this was one) can afford the losses caused by a FB campaign that goes viral. Lets recognise that social media (including Team BHP, without you mods) can build a lynch mob mentality at times. This is not GM or Nissan suing the brothers. And we don't know how rich the brothers are.

But i agree that if the dealership can afford it, the right thing to do would be to donate anything over and above compensation for losses to charity.

Last edited by Hayek : 15th September 2012 at 12:04.
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Old 15th September 2012, 14:20   #13
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Default Re: Judge Awards $1.5 Million To Nissan Dealership That Fired A Woman With Cancer

Quote:
Originally Posted by noopster View Post
...
I feel bad for the woman at the centre of it all. Bad enough to be struck down with cancer and then get fired a couple of weeks after you come back to it, then you're stuck with a militant family that spreads lies on your behalf, a former employer who takes you to the cleaners AND a hanging judge who takes your pants off while you are there!

Just my opinion.

The woman hasnot been slapped with the bill, her brothers have been. And frankly they deserve no sympathy at all.

The woman got cancer, that was not her fault, but what her brothers did affects livelihoods of all the employees of the dealership - don't they have families and kids and health insurance troubles?

Your compassion is extremely misguided, tomorrow if a cancer victim shoots a few people and as a result ends in prison would you give the argument "please be compassionate" - if not then you must recognize that the difference is only one of degree not one of principle and you hardly know how much damage was really inflicted (for example how do you know that $1.5M is not a compassionately reduced charge in the first place)
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Old 15th September 2012, 15:27   #14
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Default Re: Judge Awards $1.5 Million To Nissan Dealership That Fired A Woman With Cancer

Quote:
Originally Posted by noopster View Post
I feel bad for the woman at the centre of it all. Bad enough to be struck down with cancer and then get fired a couple of weeks after you come back to it, then you're stuck with a militant family that spreads lies on your behalf, a former employer who takes you to the cleaners AND a hanging judge who takes your pants off while you are there!
Very true, should be troublesome for the woman to deal with the disease and the court case. That said, attack via social media is taken very seriously there, and when a case between a corporate entity and an individual goes against the latter, the impact is really heavy.

By the way, shouldn’t this thread go under shifting gears? This is more of corporate affairs and employee relations
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