Jet Crash Victim Files Lawsuit

By Steven Luke
|  Monday, Oct 5, 2009  |  Updated 7:00 PM PDT
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Jet Crash Victim Files Lawsuit

Nikki Wagner

The Navy jet crashed in a residential neighborhood, destroying two homes.

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Jet Crash Victim Files Lawsuit

The first lawsuit associated with the fighter jet crash has been filed, but it's not the military getting sued.
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The first lawsuit associated with the December 2008 University City fighter jet crash has been filed, but it's not the military getting sued.

Sunny Zhuang has filed a civil suit against her former employer alleging wrongful termination. Exactly one month after losing her home in University City and virtually all of her family's possessions, Zuang was fired.

"They termed the termination of her position as a reorganization, but it was a reorganization of exactly one person and the department she worked in still exists today," said Zhuang's attorney Brian Fogarty of law firm DLA Piper LLP.

Zhuang's supervisors at Biolegend twice denied her requests for time off in the immediate weeks following the crash, even though she had more than 200 hours of vacation time accrued according to the suit. 

"Unbelievably, at a time when one might say 'take the month off,' she asked for two weeks that overlapped with the Christmas holiday," Fogarty said.

Zhuang was eventually granted the time off, according to Fogarty, but three days after she returned from her vacation she was let go.

Biolegend had a legal obligation to work with his client and her psychiatrist's recommendation that she take some time off according to Fogarty. 

"The crash of the jet into her home is what caused her to need time off, it's what caused her to need to seek counseling.  Biolegend put profits ahead of people," he said.

According to the civil complaint, Zhuang never had a bad review and was the recipient of several awards and accolades for her performance. She is seeking unspecified damages for wrongful termination.

Reached for comment, Biolegend founder and CEO Gene Lay replied, "We have reviewed the complaint with our attorneys. We believe the complaint is absolutely without merit. We intend to defend ourselves vigorously."

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