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Posted On: January 28, 2009 by Peter M. LaSorsa

Copia Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit For $250,000

Former Copia employee Crystal Tynan alleged that she had been sexually harassed by Copia’s former Director of Operations Art Ferretti and filed a sexual harassment lawsuit in Napa County Superior Court. Tynan simultaneously filed an arbitration claim, Tynan v. Copia, et al 26-40825 making the same allegations. Tynan and Copia agreed to settle the lawsuit for $250,000, with Copia making no admission of liability.

To throw a monkey wrench into the settlement, Copia filed for protection under Bankruptcy two weeks after the settlement and therefore the settlement was on hold pending approval of the Bankruptcy court. Yesterday U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Alan Jaroslovsky ruled that Copia’s liability insurance company can pay the $250,000 settlement ending the sexual harassment lawsuit.

Copia was a non-profit discovery center whose mission was to explore, celebrate and share the many pleasures and benefits of wine, its relationship to food and its significance to our culture. Copia opened in 2001 and closed in November 2008 with debt of nearly $80 million.

Copia initially wanted to compel arbitration and Tynan resisted claiming that she would not be allowed to recover as fully through arbitration claming among other things that the arbitration agreement generally lacks mutuality and the clause in her contract calling for arbitration was unconscionable. Copia filed a motion to compel arbitration which the Judge granted and the case was settled through that process.

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