LOS ANGELES, Calif. – A jury on Wednesday awarded $7.13 million to former Los Angeles Times sports columnist T.J. Simers, who claimed he was forced out of his $234,000-a-year job by age and health discrimination.
The Superior Court jury made the lawsuit award after a six-week trial, the Times reported (http://lat.ms/1MjvIRP ).
Simers had sought more than $12 million.
The newspaper believes Simers made unfounded allegations and will appeal, spokeswoman Hillary Manning said.
Simers, 65, was a Times columnist for a decade but left two years ago to work for the Orange County Register.
His lawsuit alleged that he came under increasing criticism from Times editors in 2013 after he had an apparent mini-stroke. He was later diagnosed with complex migraine syndrome.
His workload was reduced from three to two columns a week. The suit also contended that the Times was trying to replace him with a younger journalist.
The Times said Simers got into trouble for an ethics breach involving a video that was briefly posted to the newspaper’s website. The video featured Simers, his daughter and former Laker Dwight Howard.
Times editors said he failed to disclose his business relationship with the producer of the video, which allegedly was a promotion for a proposed TV comedy loosely based on Simers’ life.
Simers testified that at that point the project had died and he had no business relationship with the producer’s company.
“And if there’s no TV show, I certainly wasn’t promoting a TV show that doesn’t exist on our website,” he testified.
Simers was suspended with pay and the Times began an investigation. In August 2013, Simers was told he would lose his column and become a reporter but instead he was offered a one-year contract for a column.
However, Simers resigned the next month. He joined the Register as a columnist but retired less than a year later.