Sexual harassment case a first for Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A sexual harassment case against Shaw Coastal has set a landmark in Louisiana.

A nine-member jury unanimously found former employee, John Cherry's claims of sexual harassment were valid. After three years of rigorous appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided that verdict stands.

The trial involved two former employees of Shaw. Cherry sued his former colleague, Michael Reasoner for sexually harassing him in 2007 for six months. The trial included graphic testimony, where jurors were read sexually explicit text messages and emails.

After a five-day trial, a jury ordered Shaw to pay Cherry half a million dollars for failing to stop the abuse. They ordered Reasoner to pay Cherry $10,000.

A week later, Judge James Brady vacated, or dismissed, the half million dollar ruling against Shaw, citing a lack of evidence.

Cherry's attorney, Jill Craft, said that was just the beginning of a long line of appeals from both sides of the case.

"I guess you could probably best characterize it as a war of attrition," Craft said.

Shaw filed a document with the Supreme Court asking it to review the federal jury's decision.

It included a list of the parties, statements of facts in the case, and legal questions and arguments as to why the court should review it.

Craft filed a brief opposing a review.

In the end the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it would not review the case.

"It is a huge, huge victory today," Craft said.

It was a victory for her client, John Cherry, and for those fighting similar court battles.

"Today's decision signals a rebirth of my faith and client of the justice system in this country that a single person can fight an enormous company and still have justice prevail at the end of the day," Craft said.

Shaw's attorneys have asked the district court to again review the verdict, seeking a reduction.

The appellate and now U.S. Supreme Courts have reviewed the case and ruled the verdict must stand.

Shaw issued the following statement:

We are disappointed that the Supreme Court did not grant review of the portion of the 5th Circuit's opinion that there was sufficient evidence to support a claim of sexual harassment. Shaw believes that the opinion is not consistent with this area of law and is pursuing additional motions at the trial court. Shaw is firmly committed to a work environment that is free from discrimination and harassment as well as any form of retaliation.

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