Thursday, September 2, 2010

Florida Federal Jury Awards $8.1 Million for Fired Cancer Survivor of Michael's Arts and Crafts Stores

Wayne Roustan of the Sun Sentinel 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.


  1. The reason decisions like this are so rare is that companies go to great lengths to avoid them by being safe and not firing anyone for any reason. Then there are people like this who have a great "sad" story and are able to demonize everyone else who is just trying to do their job. Companies of this size go through multi-step processes of warnings and feedback before a firing takes place. I am amazed at how one sided the article is in what I assume is a a "journalistic" newspaper. Just reading the article you can tell that something this egregious would never really happen, the whole truth has not been told. I guess as long as she has beat corporate America for $8.1MM, she at least should be happy now. The rest of us will go on working hard for a living and not off of the dole of some corporate or government entity. I wish her the best with her health but hope that her conscience catches up with her eventually.

    1. Don't you find it odd that Sands would still be employed after personally being named in an eight million dollar lawsuit...and promoted a year later..kind of interesting. the real problem lies with the company as a whole. not just him. i'm sure he was just the front man for someone higher up on the food chain. ... thus why he still has a job.

  2. One would hope that nothing this egregious would happen, but it did. This company did not follow normal procedures. Skip Sand, the Michaels regional manager who did this, admitted under oath that he lied about the theft accusation, harassed her at home, and threatened her if she did not return to her job when she was still too sick to work. She appealed to Michael's higher management, and they did nothing. They turned her down for short term disability. This woman is flat broke and trying to keep her home from foreclosure. After what they did no her, she deserves every penny she gets. She has been working at a clerical level in another retail store and taking in sewing for extra money, while she fought a local cancer recurrence. No one could work harder than Kara.

  3. Thank you both for your posts, I think both posts stake out the positions of the polar arguments surrounding employment lawss. On one hand we have an argument about jobs being lost to overly restrictive laws and regulations, and the other the personal affrontry of employment practices that are entirely personal and deeply offensive. I'm sure the jury saw the latter and acted as they did as a consequence.

  4. Anonymous #1 (September 3, 2010 9:52 AM), you are a douchebag. The facts in this case have been widely reported and they are as detailed in the article. To suggest that a woman who was put through this type of hell by a manager who is pure evil is "off of the dole of some corporate or government entity" is douchebaggery of the highest order. Here's hoping you experience something like she did, jerk.

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