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Federal Court Ends Trial and Dismisses Benefits, Wrongful Termination Claims of Terminated Engineer

January 21, 2008

On January 15, 2008, a federal district court judge in Los Angeles granted judgment as a matter of law in favor of KM&M’s clients, Direct TV Group and Hughes Network Systems, in a wrongful termination and breach of contract lawsuit brought by a former employee.  The plaintiff, an engineer and marketing manager who had been laid off due to a reduction in force, contended that the defendants had breached alleged promises to provide him with bonuses, enhanced severance benefits, and enhanced pension benefits upon his transfer from Hughes Electronics Corporation, the predecessor to Direct TV Group, to Hughes Network Systems.  The plaintiff also contended that Hughes Network Systems terminated him in violation of public policy because he allegedly claimed that a presentation to stock analysts regarding a project called Spaceway was misleading in violation of federal securities laws.

A jury trial in the matter began on January 2, 2008 with the defendants represented by attorneys from KM&M’s Los Angeles office.  After eight days of trial, and at the conclusion of the plaintiff’s case, the defendants moved for judgment as a matter of law under Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.  The Court granted the motion, ruling that plaintiff had failed to present sufficient evidence on necessary elements of one of his contract claims (plaintiff having withdrawn two of his contract causes of action just prior to and during trial) and on the wrongful termination claim.  The Court noted, among other things, that in various communications to his employer, including a letter written by his counsel, the alleged misrepresentations which were the basis of his wrongful termination claim were never mentioned.

As a result of this successful motion, the trial ended in our clients’ favor without the case being submitted to the jury.