A Los Angeles Superior Court jury awarded plaintiff an aggregate $157,000 verdict in Hong vs. Life University, an employment and trade secrets case. 37 Trials Digest 13th 12, 2010 WL 3454121 (Verdict Date June 28, 2010).
Plaintiff allegedly entered into an employment contract with defendant university for a five-year term to begin October 1, 2006. Plaintiff alleged that defendants breached the agreement by firing him on June 15, 2007. An individual defendant allegedly committed fraud by failing to disclose that he did not have the capacity to enter into a five-year employment agreement with him. In addition, plaintiff alleged termination in violation of public policy because he protested defendants’ allegedly illegal “degree mill” in which defendants purportedly granted various diplomas with little or no academic coursework. Next, plaintiff claimed he brought personal property with him to defendant university, including hard drives, USB drives, videos, and thousands of books. Plaintiff said the individual defendants took his personal items and $800 in cash from his desk.
Finally, plaintiff alleged defendant misappropriated his trade secrets by stealing his computer hardware, which contained compilations of reading material, worksheets, and examinations designed to teach various subject matters.
The jury awarded $88,750 in damages against defendant Life University; $11,250 damages and $50,000 punitive damages against individual defendant Ben Choi; and $1,000 damages and $6,000 punitive damages against defendant Steve Choi.
Judge and Attorneys
Hon. Victor E. Chavez.
Plaintiff: Douglas Han, Law Offices of Henry M. Lee, Los Angeles; Henry M. Lee, Law Offices of Henry M. Lee, Los Angeles.
Defendant: David S. Kim, Kim & Associates, Los Angeles; Sam Yu, Kim & Associates, Los Angeles.