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Lucasfilm wins appeal of $1.2 million pregnancy discrimination verdict

According to the appeals court, the trial judge gave improper instructions to jury members in the original case

The force was with Lucasfilm Ltd. Monday, when a California appeals court overturned a $1.2 million pregnancy discrimination verdict against the company.

Julie Veronese sued the production company, which owner George Lucas recently sold to Walt Disney Co. for $4.05 billion, for allegedly rescinding a job offer after she told a prospective supervisor shortly before her start date that she was pregnant. In 2010, jurors awarded Veronese $93,800 for lost wages, $20,000 for emotional distress and $1.16 million in attorneys’ fees.

But a three-judge panel reversed the $1.2 million award and remanded the decision to the trial court for a retrial, after it found that the jury had received improper instruction from the trial judge, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. According to the appeals court, the judge should have told jurors that Lucasfilm could not be held liable for a nondiscriminatory error in business judgment.

The trial judge had also instructed jurors that concerns about a fetus’s health do not justify discrimination. According to the appeals court, that statement could have disadvantaged Lucasfilm, since Veronese’s supervisor warned her about fumes and other potential hazards at the company.

For more pregnancy-related lawsuits on InsideCounsel, see:

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