As TamaraTattles.com first reported last week, Lisa Vanderpump’s tweet about truth and justice prevailing in her two year court battle with a former waitress who filed hostile work environment and other charges against the restaurant in civil court, was completely misleading. Today, a jury awarded punitive damages that were based on the evidence presented in court that Ken Todd destroyed the taped surveillance of the alleged abuse by assistant manager Michael Govia. Lawyers for Villa Blanca seem to alternately claim no abuse occurred and/or that this was an isolated incident. However, TamaraTattles.com has discovered at least one other case of wrongful termination by Villa Blanca that was quietly settled out of court.
Click through for the testimony from today’s proceedings.
In her closing argument, plaintiff’s lawyer Genie Harrison said a punitive damage award will help prevent other Villa Blanca employees from experiencing the same type of treatment her client endured.
“What you’re doing is protecting all of them on a going-forward basis,” Harrison said. “You are the ones to teach Villa Blanca that you can’t do this.”
But Villa Blanca attorney Marieanne Zakarian said what happened with Bustillos was an “isolated incident” and urged that no additional money be awarded to the plaintiff.
“The Villa Blanca is not a Fortune 500 company,” Zakarian said. “It’s a family-owned restaurant with 60 to 80 employees.”
Zakarian said there is no concrete evidence supporting Bustillos’ attorneys’ allegations that Vanderpump’s husband, Ken Todd, ordered restaurant surveillance footage destroyed to keep it from being obtained by the media. Bustillos’ lawyers maintain the video could have bolstered their client’s claims. [SOURCE Westsidetoday.com]
It seems that the jury felt that the testimony by Andrew Morrison, the general manager of Villa Blanca at the time of the incident, stating that Ken wanted to be sure that the footage did not get released to the media was sufficient evidence to prove malice intent. Morrison also testified that Todd did not want to make any accommodations for Bustillos after she reported the harassment by Govia.
In testimony today, Michael Velasquez, the eatery’s CPA, told jurors the restaurant had $1.4 million in assets in 2012. Todd, the only other witness today, said profits at the restaurant went down after news accounts of the Bustillos lawsuit.
Harrison told jurors they have a chance to “impose actual consequences” by ordering Villa Blanca to pay punitive damages.
“This phase is literally about making it sting,” she said. ‘It has to hurt or else it’s not going to be taken seriously.”
But Zakarian said the restaurant treated Bustillos fairly after she complained.
“If anything, the Villa Blanca went out of its way to accommodate her,” Zakarian said.
Bustillos has held several server jobs since she left Villa Blanca, Zakarian said.
“Ms. Bustillos is not financially weak,” Zakarian said. [SOURCE Westsidetoday.com]
Oddly, in court, it was not made clear that a single accommodation was made by Villa Blanca. That was a major factor in Villa Blanca losing the case. I also don’t see why their attorney would point out that Bustillos continues to work in the restaurant industry, which seem to indicate she is a good server.
Ultimately, the jury awarded $100,000 and attorneys’ fees to Bustillos. Lawyers for Villa Blanca vow to appeal. Really? This public relations disaster has not gone on long enough for you Lisa? I suggest you pay the women quickly and quietly. An appeal would likely uphold the ruling and keep this in the media even longer.
Do you guys think that Lisa and Ken will really appeal this case? I’m guess the attorneys’ fees would be nearly as much as the current award.
Tamaratattles.com anticipates having additional information from our exclusive source in the near future. Meanwhile two fun facts: TMZ is pretending to be confounded by the judgment. And Donald Sterling (the racist formers Clippers owner) took two young black females to dinner at Villa Blanca this week.