Wyndham

Williams v Wyndham

Case Number: CGC-12-526187

Last Updated: April 16, 2021

Status

Jury verdict entered on 11/17/16 in favor of former Wyndham employee; affirmed in post-trial motion. Decision on post-trial motion entered: 3/10/17

Location

Superior Court of California, In and for the County of San Francisco

Presiding Judge

Hon. Richard B. Ulmer, Jr.

Date Filed

03/10/2017

Highlights

Jury trials are the exception in timeshare litigation with the vast majority of whistleblower cases resolved by confidential settlement. In this case, however, a former Wyndham employee presented evidence that she was terminated after complaining of Wyndham’s fraud on elders. The resulting verdict and punitive damages award withstood Wyndham’s post-trial motion, albeit reduced to $12.8 million.

Case Posture

Summary:

Patricia Williams brought a whistleblower claim all the way to a jury. She testified that she was fired from her timeshare sales position with Wyndham after she reported fraud by her co-workers to Wyndham management.

After a three-week trial, a jury entered a verdict in William’s favor for over $20 million that included $129,900.60 in past wage loss, $1,300,000 for emotional distress, and $18,570.00.16 in punitive damages. Wyndham asked for a new trial, or in the alternative, that the punitive damages award, if any, should be reduced from $18.6 million to $130,000.

In its order denying Wyndham’s motion, the judge cited the following evidence heard by the jury at trial:

  • that Wyndham sold elderly consumers more time than they could reasonably use before death;
  • that Wyndham had a pattern and practice of retaliating against employees who blew the whistle on Wyndham’s rampant fraud;
  • that “[w]hen timeshare sales were off, Wyndham had ‘TAFT Days’ – Tell Them Any Frigging Thing;”
  • that sales representatives falsely told customers that Wyndham would buy back the timeshares it sold if the customers purchased additional timeshare points;
  • that sales representatives falsely told customers that their maintenance fees would not increase; and
  • that salespersons opened credit cards for customers without authorization.

In denying the motion for a new trial, the court ruled that Wyndham’s conduct was “highly reprehensible,” and the jury’s award was “dispassionately sound,” but reduced the punitive damages award to $12.8 million, citing due process principles.

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Docket link

Operative Complaint

Critical Orders

Critical Briefs

Transcripts

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Parties

Plaintiff:

Patricia Williams

Plaintiffs’ counsel:

Chris Dolan and Anne Costin

Defendant:

Wyndham Vacation Ownership, Inc., Wyndham Vacation Resorts, Inc., Anita Howell, and Linda Tanner.

Defendant’s counsel:

Jackson Lewis, PC

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