reports on the Broward County cancer survivor who won an enormous award from a federal jury versus Michael's Arts and Crafts retailer:
"A federal jury on Wednesday awarded a 47-year-old Delray Beach woman $8.1 million in a lawsuit in which she claimed Michaels Stores Inc. violated employment laws.
Jurors determined that Kara Jorud was unjustly fired on Oct. 16, 2008, from her manager's position at a Boca Raton store after she claimed she was forced to work while undergoing chemotherapy, was harassed and accused of stealing from the arts and crafts store. `It's really been awful, beyond awful,' Jorud said, `They made a difficult situation almost impossible.'
Officials with Michaels could not be reached for comment despite multiple calls to their lawyers and to their headquarters in Irving, Texas.
After a five-day trial, jurors deliberated for about five hours over two days before awarding Jorud $4 million for pain and suffering, $4 million for punitive damages and $100,000 for lost wages. The judge reserved the right to increase the award for lost wages up to $1 million, said Jorud's attorney, Brian McPherson.
Jorud was diagnosed with breast cancer on July 30, 2008, and later had a double mastectomy. She claimed in the lawsuit that she was pressured to return to work early during a six-week medical leave because she was expected to fix the high-volume store's failing operations.
`They accused her of theft,' McPherson said. `And district manager Skip Sand harassed her because she missed so much work. He claimed he saw her theft on video and claimed she violated company policies that didn't even exist.' He said Jorud hurriedly married her fiancé to get on his health insurance plan after losing her insurance with her job. Her daughter, Courtney, split high school classes with a full-time job to help pay the bills. `I would be surprised if they just rolled over, but it just happened so we don't know if they'll appeal,' McPherson said."
Employment laws are supposed to advantage employees, in reality this sort of outcome is very rare. Great injustices happen all the time. This case is remarkable from the standpoint of an angry Federal Court jury doing justice. Wow.