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Verizon prevails in sexual harassment and defamation jury trial

January 2018

Jones Day client Verizon secured a complete defense verdict in a five-day sexual harassment and defamation jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Plaintiff filed a five-count complaint against Verizon, alleging claims of Title VII gender discrimination, retaliation and co-worker sexual harassment, as well as Illinois state law negligence and defamation per se. In August 2017, Verizon obtained summary judgment with respect to Plaintiff’s discrimination, retaliation and negligence claims, but the defamation and co-worker sexual harassment claims survived.

In one of the only – if not the only – jury trial in the country on sexual harassment since the onset the #MeToo movement, Verizon tried the case before a jury of 12 in Illinois federal court. The court granted directed verdict to Verizon on Plaintiff’s defamation count and claim for punitive damages, noting that no evidence presented at trial supported Plaintiff’s claim that Verizon acted with malice or reckless indifference. After less than 30 minutes of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Verizon on the remaining count.

Nicole Esperson v. Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless, Inc., No. 15-cv-08298 (N.D. Ill.)

For additional information about this matter, please contact: Michael J. Gray

Client(s): Verizon
Practice(s): Labor & Employment
Office(s): Chicago