Clovis News

Clovis woman in spanking case wins -- again

A Clovis woman is entitled to the $1.4 million that her former employer and its insurance carriers agreed to pay her to settle her sexual-harassment lawsuit, a Fresno County Superior Court jury ruled Tuesday.

The verdict gives Janet Orlando more ammunition in her fight to get some of the damages that another jury awarded her in 2006 for enduring spankings at Alarm One Inc., where she worked as a salesperson.

Alarm One and its insurance carriers have declined to pay, saying that the settlement contract depended on finding a bank willing to finance the deal. That didn't happen, they say.

But Orlando's fight may not be over. An attorney for one of Alarm One's insurance carriers said he was disappointed with the verdict and the company might appeal.

"I don't know if this is a conclusion," said Jonathan Cole, who represented Carolina Casualty Insurance.

Orlando and her attorneys -- Nicholas "Butch Wagner and Larry Artenian -- said that's fine with them. The $1.4 million has already drawn $600,000 in interest, Wagner said. If the case is prolonged, Orlando's damages will grow by at least $200,000 per year, he said

"I have the best attorneys in town," Orlando said. "We're never going to give up."

Orlando was a saleswoman for Alarm One, a home-security company, for five months in late 2002 and early 2003. She said she quit after she was humiliated by company practices that included spanking employees with a competitor's yard sign -- all in the name of helping build camaraderie among the company's sales force.

In April 2006, a jury awarded her $1.7 million in damages for her claims of sexual harassment, assault, battery and infliction of emotional distress.

In July 2006, all the parties signed a contract agreeing to settle the case for $1.4 million.

Orlando never received a penny from the settlement, however. Alarm One and its insurance carriers -- Carolina Casualty Insurance and Monitor Liability Managers Inc. -- challenged the settlement contract. Their lawyers argued that since no bank would finance the deal, it was not completed, and therefore the companies were not bound by it.

Jurors, however, deliberated less than an hour before finding that Alarm One and its insurance carriers had breached the contract.

Alarm One and Carolina Casualty are both liable for the $1.4 million settlement agreement, jurors ruled. Monitor Liability Managers is liable for $200,000 of it, they said.

Orlando cried as the verdict was announced in Judge Donald Black's courtroom. Outside the courtroom, she described the case as being like an sexual assault.

"You feel like they just keep raping you and raping you," she said. "It's almost like they are doing it on purpose."

Because Alarm One has gone bankrupt, Carolina Casualty might be left paying most of the bill, Wagner said.

That's fine with Orlando.

"I need a vacation," she said.