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Verdict reached in former San Diego TV anchor Sandra Maas’ lawsuit against KUSI

Maas had been seeking $10 million for discrimination and violating the state's Equal Pay Act.

SAN DIEGO — It took less than two days for the jury to come to a decision in the civil trial of former news anchor Sandra Maas against KUSI.

The jury was split on the claims but did award Sandra Maas more than $1.5 million for the difference in pay attributed to gender, past and future lost wages, and past and future emotional distress.

"I'm feeling relieved, it's been a long almost four years, I'm elated," Maas told CBS 8 shortly after the verdict. "I'm elated, it's a great day for women, for people of color and for equal pay."

While they did not win on all counts, Maas and her team of attorneys are calling the verdict a "resounding victory" that should send a message to employers.

"I was prepared for anything today," Maas told CBS 8. "And it is worth it. I would do it all over again."

Maas thanked the jury, as well as fellow journalists in the San Diego market who had backed her, both women and men. 

"People who have been very supportive and helping women achieve pay equity," she said. "Women have to work at it,  but men have to help us too, and that I feel has happened to me here in San Diego, and I am grateful for all of it."

"I feel that the runway that women have in news and in media is much less than men," said Josh Gruenberg, Maas' attorney. 

"We wanted to highlight that in this case because I thought it was particularly egregious, and at this company, at this station, it's even more particularly egregious," he added. 

"This tells employers here in San Diego that is not okay to not renew contracts because people complain about unequal pay," said Pamela Vallero, another of Maas' attorneys.

KUSI's attorneys had argued during the trial that Maas' male co-anchor had more experience, and also worked harder than Maas. 

The jury did not find that KUSI had discriminated based on age or gender, or that it acted with malice, and awarded no punitive damages.

"I wanted to win, and I did win," Maas said. "And other women, and men, won today as well."

Some jurors say the perceived truthfulness of each side helped form their final opinion.

"Just the evidence we weighed  for the defendant's side did not seem as plausible or truthful," said juror Ian Del Rosario. "Basically that's what it came down to."

"It was clearly a case of discrimination and basically trying to railroad her," added juror Marcy Fullylove.

"Always use your voice," Maas said, when asked what message this verdict sends. "If you are silent, nothing will change."

CBS 8 spoke to Ken Fitzgerald, attorney for KUSI, who said they were disappointed with the verdict, but think they have strong grounds for appeal.

The verdict

Claim 1: Violation of Equal Pay Act: The jury found in favor of Sandra Maas – awarded $200,000 total amount of pay difference attributed to gender

Claim 2: Age Discrimination: The jury found in favor of McKinnon Broadcasting Co.

Claim 3: Violation of Whistleblower Protections Act: The jury found in favor of Sandra Maas

Amount of damages awarded to Maas for claims 2 & 3

  • Past and future lost wages - $1,295,000
  • Past and future emotional distress - $80,000

Did McKinnon Broadcasting Co. engage in the conduct of Malice, Oppression or Fraud?: The jury answered NO

WATCH RELATED: Verdict reached in former San Diego TV anchor Sandra Maas’ lawsuit against KUSI 



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