A jury has awarded $1.3 million in punitive damages to a longtime SDG&E employee who claimed he was fired after he complained that the utility was targeting low-income households with delinquent notices to make money on late fees.
David Bryant, a former SDG&E billing supervisor, won more than $860,000 when jurors returned their compensatory verdict in the case Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the jury found SDG&E liable on three of four counts, including wrongful termination and retaliation.
According to Bryant, utility managers in 2008 began telling workers to start hand-delivering delinquent notices — for which customers can legally be charged $9 — in high-density, low-income areas such as central San Diego.
Bryant said that when he complained about who was getting the notices, he was fired.
In a statement, SDG&E said it “strongly disagreed” with the finding for the plaintiff and plans to appeal. More coverage on 10News.
“We believe that the evidence presented at trial showed that we reached the decision to terminate Mr. Bryant’s employment after a comprehensive investigation of allegations that he conducted himself at work in a manner that violated company policies,” the statement said.
“Forty employees were interviewed as part of this investigation and it was determined that he engaged in extremely inappropriate conduct for a supervisor. We have numerous channels for employees to report unethical behaviors and all claims are invested thoroughly. SDG&E investigated Mr. Bryant’s claims and found them to be without merit.”
— City News Service