SAWS (San Antonio Water System) recently lost the apeal of their million dollar loss in Bexar County distirict court. I previously wrote about that appellate decision here.
That defense has cost SAWS $492,000 over four years. This amount includes the trial, the appeal and the EEOC charge. See San Antonio Express News report (account needed). That is the cost of defense. That amount is over and beyond the amount of the trial verdict. As Councilwoman Ivy Taylor asked, they lost that suit twice, "what were the SAWS lawyers thinking?" The suit was defended by Cox & Smith. SAWS in-house attorneys would have been heavily involved, as well. Responding to the EEOC charge is minimal indeed. Typically, responding to an EEOC charge includes nothing more than gathering a few statements from witnesses and drafting a letter to the EEOC. It is all attorney or paralegal time. So, the amount per hour is high. But, still, responding to an EEOC charge is minimal when compard to the hundreds of hours necessary for the lawsuit itself.
Councilwoman Taylor’s better question would be what, if anything, was offered to settle the case and avoid the $492,000? My guess is little or nothing was offered. Most plaintiffs will accept something, which is sometimes a very small "something," rather than incur the uncertainty of trial. I do not know what Ms. Nicholas’ lost income was, but many cases settle for one year’s lost pay, more or less. I am sure the defense could have settled this case for much less than $492,000 at several different points in the EEOC process or during the lawsuit. Indeed, they could have settled the case after the trial verdict.
Mediation would have been offered by the EEOC during the EEOC portion. Bexar County district court then requires that all parties state whether they would consider mediation. This case has not settled, but not due to lack of opportunity.