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Jury Awards Four Poway Movie Theater Employees $6.85 Million

Apr 22, 2005 | AP

A San Diego County jury has awarded four women a total of $6.85 million in a sexual harassment lawsuit against a movie theater chain.

In their 2003 lawsuit against UltraStar Cinemas, the women claimed that they were harassed by two managers at a theater in Poway, outside San Diego.

According to the lawsuit, the managers put a retractable knife blade to the plaintiffs' throats, placed them in police-style restraint holds and inappropriately touched and leered at them.

Jurors on Thursday awarded the four women $1.5 million each in punitive damages.

Two weeks earlier, the same jury awarded $850,000 in emotional distress damages to the four plaintiffs. The company filed for bankruptcy after the first verdict, said an attorney for the women.

The four plaintiffs were 16 or 17 at the time the alleged harassment began in December 2001. The managers, were 32 and 33.

During the seven-week trial, attorneys for the four women presented evidence that UltraStar's owners and operators knew about the managers' conduct, but turned a blind eye to it.

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