Both sides eventually appealed a 2015 verdict that granted former Los Angeles Times hack sports columnist T.J. Simers $7.1 million in an age and disability discrimination suit against the paper. The Times appealed because holy shit, $7.1 million! Simers appealed because the amount was less than the $12 million he’d sought in the suit. The award was eventually thrown out by a California state judge, who ordered a retrial.
The new trial wrapped Monday, with a jury awarding Simers a staggering $15.45 million in non-economic damages. Simers alleged in the original lawsuit that he was forced out in 2013 soon after suffering a minor stroke during spring training. Simers says he was subjected to increased scrutiny from his editors, had his column cut from three times a week to two, and that he saw the paper lining up his eventual successor. The Times argued that Simers got himself in trouble at the paper via a conflict of interest involving Dwight Howard and a planned television show about Simers’s life, and that Simers jumped to the Orange County Register voluntarily.
That argument did not work on the first jury, who found that the Times owed Simers $5 million in “non-economic damages” as part of their award for workplace discrimination, but it convinced Judge William A. MacLaughlin in January 2016. MacLaughlin ordered the second trial on the basis that Simers “had supported his claims of age and disability discrimination,” per Law360, but had provided insufficient evidence to support the claim that he was forced to leave the Times. That decision was reportedly upheld last summer by another California court, clearing the way for the retrial.
Simers’s sportswriting had long since curdled into a dismal troll act by 2013, but he was making a whopping $234,000 a year to write his columns. Even after the Times discovered his conflict of interest, the paper was reportedly still willing to proceed with a contract extension so long as Simers admitted to his mistake. He evidently chose a better route: latching onto a more desperate paper, gobbling up a buyout a year later, and then soaking his former employer for a goddamn fortune. It’s too bad they didn’t just fire him for sucking. They had a case!