Former “Price Is Right” model Brandi Cochran’s discrimination lawsuit has been tossed out, overturning out an initial ruling that awarded her $7.7 million.
California state Judge Kevin Brazile cited bad jury instructions in his decision to overturn November's $7.7 million ruling. Cochran’s attorney told ABC News that the case will be getting a new trial.
Although the court initially ruled in Cochran’s favor, the show’s producers immediately appealed the decision, citing what they considered the judge’s misleading jury instructions. In such cases, judges are expected to inform the jury that to convict, they must find discrimination was a “substantial motivating factor” in a plaintiff’s illegal termination, not merely a “motivating factor.” The seemingly innocuous omission may save "The Price is Right" a bundle of money.
“The instruction error cannot be considered harmless,” Brazile wrote in Tuesday’s ruling, via The Hollywood Reporter. “Of central importance to the case was the weight given to discriminatory intent and whether that intent need only be of a mere motivating factor or a substantial factor. Given this central dispute, the failure to give the proper instruction regarding substantial factor cannot be considered harmless, and a new trial must be granted.”
Cochran, now 41, served as a “Price Is Right” model from 2002 to 2009. She was pregnant with twins when the show’s producer began to grow concerned about her ability to work. “He was mad at me and it was hard to comprehend someone upset that I was having twins,” she told ABC affiliate KABC-TV. “And then I would get questions, ‘How long are you going to work?’ ‘Are you going to work if you get really big?’”
According to Cochran's discrimination suit, “Price Is Right” executives refused to honor her right to maternity leave, effectively blocking her from returning to the show. Cochran also had to deal with verbal abuse from fellow models, which allegedly referred to her as a “wide load.”
Even after receiving news of the retrial, Cochran’s attorney, Carney Shegerian, was far from discouraged. “I think on retrial I’ll get triple or quadruple that,” he told the Associated Press.