MAHONING COUNTY Doctor contests verdict



Lawyers for the doctor are asking for either a reduced award or a new trial.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Lawyers are contesting a jury's verdict in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court against Dr. Anthony Pannozzo and Creekside Health Center of Boardman.
The jury awarded Gretchen Julian of Youngstown $160,000 Dec. 6.
Julian, of Overhill Road, filed the suit in January 2000, saying she had been fired from Creekside after just five days of full-time employment as director of Creekside. According to court documents, she had worked a month as a part-time employee before becoming full time.
The lawsuit said she was fired without just cause, which Pannozzo disputed at trial. He argued in court that her job performance was unsatisfactory and that she was hired as an at-will employee, understanding that she could be fired at any time.
What's sought
Atty. Benjamin Joltin of Youngstown filed a motion this week asking that Judge Maureen A. Cronin grant a new trial for Pannozzo, who owns Creekside. Joltin said in court documents that one of the jurors was biased because of dealings with Pannozzo and was related to Judge Cronin.
Joltin also argued in the motion that Pannozzo stipulated to some issues of liability in the case while he was locked up in the county jail, where Judge Cronin had sentenced him for contempt of court for failure to comply with court orders.
Because he was under duress of incarceration, Judge Cronin should have allowed him to revoke the stipulations after his release, which Pannozzo requested but was denied, the motion says.
If a new trial is not granted, Joltin asks that the jury's award be reduced. He argued in court documents that the jury's award was not supported by testimony in the trial.
Joltin says in court documents that Julian was not entitled to punitive damages and should have received actual damages of only $30,400, which is what she would have been paid had she been employed a full year.
He also asks that Judge Cronin stay enforcement of the jury award until the contested issues are resolved.
A hearing on the motion has not been set.
bjackson@vindy.com

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