As co-counsel in an age discrimination case, Emily Derstine Friesen, ’16, an attorney with Console Mattiacci Law, secured a massive verdict in U.S. District Court in Camden, N.J. on Jan. 26.
The federal jury found that Lockheed Martin had discriminated against Derstine Friesen’s 66-year-old client, Robert Braden, when it laid him off after approximately 29 years of employment.
Braden was awarded the $520,000 in losses he sought. Because the jury concluded that Lockheed Martin willfully sought to replace older employees with younger workers, he also received $520,000 in liquidated damages to which he was entitled under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
The jury then added $50 million in punitive damages, making the verdict one of the largest age-discrimination awards an individual plaintiff has ever received.
The tab could grow, Derstine Friesen said, noting that the firm will seek interest and attorneys’ fees from the court.
“It was a phenomenal experience,” Derstine Friesen said, adding that she was delighted to serve as second chair to her colleague Rahul Munshi, who served as trial counsel.
Derstine Friesen argued motions before the court over the course of the four-day trial.
The jury deliberated several hours after closing arguments, she said, followed by about 45 minutes more on the matter of punitive damages.
“To have this in the first few months of beginning as an attorney is an amazing experience,” said Derstine Friesen, who served as editor-in-chief of the Drexel Law Review in 2015-16.
Console Mattiacci founding partner Stephen G. Console said in a statement on the firm’s website that “the jury sent a loud and clear message to corporate America: no company is too big to follow the civil rights laws of this amazing country of ours. This is a verdict that should make every employee in this country proud and happy.”