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Pinter-Brown v. Regents of University of California

Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division Eight

April 23, 2020, Opinion Filed

B290086

Opinion

STRATTON, J.

INTRODUCTION

Dr. Lauren Pinter-Brown sued the Regents of the University of California for gender discrimination based on a series of events that took place while she was a professor of medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). The jury found in favor of Dr. Pinter-Brown and awarded her upward of $13 million in economic and noneconomic damages.

Unfortunately, the trial court committed a series of grave errors that significantly prejudiced the Regents' right to a fair trial by an impartial judge.

First, the court delivered a presentation to the jury highlighting major figures in the civil rights movement, and told the jury their duty was [*2]  to stand in the shoes of Dr. Martin Luther King and bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice. Second, the court allowed the jury to hear about and view a long list of discrimination complaints from across the entire University of California system that were not properly connected to Dr. Pinter-Brown's circumstances or her theory of the case. Third, the court allowed the jury to learn of the contents and conclusions of the “Moreno Report,” which documented racial discrimination occurring throughout the entire UCLA campus. Finally, the court allowed Dr. Pinter-Brown to resurrect a retaliation claim after the close of evidence despite having summarily adjudicated that very claim prior to trial.

These errors were cumulative and highly prejudicial. They evidence the trial court's inability to remain impartial and created the impression that the court was partial to Dr. Pinter-Brown's claims.

We must reverse.

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2020 Cal. App. LEXIS 329 *

LAUREN PINTER-BROWN, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. THE REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, Defendant and Appellant.

Prior History:  [*1] APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. BC624838, Michael Linfield, Judge.

Disposition: Reversed.

CORE TERMS

audit, clinical trial, complaints, harassment, investigator, retaliation, Lymphoma, patient, replied, gender, clinical, protocol, gender discrimination, meetings, cause of action, trial court, privileges, chemotherapy, presentation, faculty, hearsay, Cancer, arc, monitoring, retaliation claim, adjudicated, objected, jurors, bias, sit

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Record on Appeal, Legal Ethics, Judicial Conduct, Evidence, Admissibility, Conduct Evidence, Prior Acts, Crimes & Wrongs, Labor & Employment Law, Discrimination, Disparate Treatment, Evidence, Relevance, Exclusion of Relevant Evidence, Confusion, Prejudice & Waste of Time, Pretrial Matters, Motions in Limine, Appellate Review, Appellate Briefs, Gender & Sex Discrimination, Statements as Evidence, Hearsay, Judgments, Summary Judgment, Partial Summary Judgment, Pleadings, Amendment of Pleadings, Conforming Pleadings to Evidence, Standards of Review, Reversible Errors