A British citizen and his wife were collectively awarded nearly $3.2 million in damages Thursday because delays by an American company in getting the two their green cards cost him his job and forced the family to move back to England in 2016.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated for about a day before finding in favor of Michael and Fiona Reynaud in their negligence suit against Technicolor Creative Services Inc. The panel found that Technicolor was 95 percent responsible for the couple’s harm and Michael Reynaud the other five percent, meaning the latter amount will be deducted from his lost wages.
The couple, who have two young children, held hands and smiled as they listened to the verdict from their seats in the audience. Several of the jurors shook hands with the Reynauds before heading back to the juror assembly room.
Michael Reynaud said outside the courtroom that he was happy with the outcome of the trial.
“We fought for this and this company will have to pay,” Reynaud said.
Reynaud, 45, who holds an MBA from USC, testified that he and his family had to sell their condominium in England and live for a time with his parents due to losing the job that paid him $145,000 annually.
He said he considered Los Angeles home and did not have the contacts back in his native country to help him find work.
Their lawyer, Jeffrey Lipow, said he was generally happy with the verdict even though he had argued for a higher amount. Lipow told jurors during final arguments Wednesday that Reynaud was not negligent because Technicolor did not keep him properly informed about how he could help his own cause.
Lipow said that even if Technicolor decided not to keep Reynaud after a decade of employment, if the plaintiffs had obtained their green cards they could have stayed in Los Angeles, where the couple preferred to live and where Reynaud said he had many more job prospects.
Bonita Moore, one of Technicolor’s attorneys, denied the company shirked its responsibilities. She told jurors Reynaud was not entitled to stay in the U.S. indefinitely and that the laws give priority to U.S. applicants, a factor that would have hurt Reynaud’s chances even if he could show the company was negligent.
Moore said Reynaud hurt his own cause by taking too long to provide documentation Technicolor needed from his prior employer. But Lipow said Technicolor was already familiar with Reynaud’s prior employment and did not need more information from him.
“They knew exactly what his work history was,” Lipow said.
Reynaud testified he was hired by Technicolor in 2007 and worked for most of the time in an office in Hollywood. He said he chose to work at Technicolor instead of two other companies that offered him jobs. He said the company was going through many changes at the time as management sought to keep the firm competitive in a changing technological world. He said his job was to help the various departments work together and improve communication.
Reynaud said he was able to work in the U.S. with the appropriate visas, and that Technicolor offered to sponsor him for a green card in October 2014. Meanwhile, after going through a difficult divorce, he married his current wife in April 2015, he said.
Reynaud said he relied on Technicolor and the law firm of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash Smoak & Stewart P.C. to obtain green cards for him and his spouse. He said that he did everything necessary to assist the company and the law firm, including filling out the necessary forms and signing the appropriate documents.
But Reynaud said Technicolor told him in March 2016 that his visa would expire in two months and that he and his family would have to leave the country.
Reynaud said he and his family are living on the $212,000 proceeds from the sale of their condominium in England. He said the numerous setbacks in getting work and the false hopes he has suffered have left him depressed, which has impacted his entire family.
Reynaud said he loves Los Angeles, still comes to the city on a visitor visa and will soon run in his 11th city marathon.
Reynaud settled his claims against the law firm before trial.