In a case that will be officially released on Tuesday, the Connecticut Supreme Court upheld the damages award for former employee in a wrongful termination lawsuit, ruling that the plaintiff provided sufficient evidence to reasonably estimate his lost wages.
The court found that the plaintiff’s testimonial evidence, backed by proven facts, satisfied the reasonable certainty standard required for damages calculation, making the award valid and not based on speculation.
In Roach v. Transwaste, the plaintiff sought damages from his former employer, claiming wrongful termination in violation of public policy and protected speech rights. The plaintiff, a commercial truck driver, alleged that he was fired after raising safety complaints about the employer’s vehicles. The trial resulted in a jury awarding the plaintiff $24,288 in lost wages.
According to the Court’s opinion, at trial, the sole evidence relating to lost wages was adduced through the plaintiff’s testimony. The plaintiff testified that he had been out of work for ‘‘[a]bout six months’’ following the termination of his employment. He also testified that the defendant had paid him at a rate of 46 cents per mile, that he always had driven a little more than 2000 miles per week, and that he had driven approximately 230,000 miles during his two years with the defendant. The defendant offered no evidence
to challenge this testimony.
The defendant attempted to challenge the damages award, arguing that the plaintiff’s evidence was insufficient and speculative. However, both the trial court and the Appellate Court upheld the damages award, finding that the plaintiff provided enough evidence to support a reasonable estimate of his lost wages.
Ultimately the Court upheld the award deeming the plaintiff’s testimony as sufficient. The jury calculated the award based on proven facts presented during the trial, demonstrating a logical basis for their decision. While the plaintiff’s testimony could have been more specific, the jury still arrived at a reasonable estimate within a sensible range, according to the court.
The court affirmed that the damages award was not speculative or arbitrary, and the plaintiff successfully demonstrated the damages to a reasonable certainty with the available evidence.
While the Court’s decision may not have a significant impact in the day to day operations of business, the language of the decision will no doubt be used in trials going forward as to the appropriate standard needed to prove damages in a termination case.
This case sets a precedent for the importance of providing concrete evidence in employment-related disputes, as it ensures that plaintiffs can recover damages for wrongful termination when supported by reasonable certainty. It also highlights the significance of presenting factual information to the jury to make an informed decision based on established evidence.