'Price Is Right' model wins $7.7 million in discrimination suit

LOS ANGELES Thu Nov 22, 2012 7:48am IST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A former model on the U.S. daytime television game show "The Price is Right" was awarded $7.7 million in punitive damages by a Los Angeles court on Wednesday after suing the show for not letting her return to work after giving birth.

The amount was in addition to $775,000 in compensatory damages awarded to 41-year-old Brandi Cochran on Tuesday, after the jury in the case ruled that the producers of the show had acted with malice by not taking her back after her pregnancy.

The jury rejected Cochran's claim for mental hardship she said she had suffered.

"I hope my case will help other women in the same situation," Cochran told reporters outside the courtroom after the trial.

Producers for "The Price is Right" said they planned to appeal.

Cochran, who is married to soap-opera actor Dean Cochran, told the Los Angeles Superior Court the show's producers began treating her poorly after she told them in December 2008 that she was expecting twins.

The former Miss USA and Miss Teen USA told the court that once she was pregnant, producers made disparaging remarks about her eating habits and weight, and removed her from the show's website.

The show's comedian host Drew Carey backed the producers in testimony earlier this month.

Cochran worked as model on the show from 2002 until January 2009. Her son was stillborn in February 2009 and her daughter was born prematurely the following month. Cochran said she asked to return to the show, but was turned down in February 2010.

Cochran said she was encouraged to sue by actress Hunter Tylo's successful 1997 pregnancy discrimination suit against the producers of the TV show "Melrose Place," who fired Tylo after she announced she was expecting a child.

(Reporting By Eric Kelsey, Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and David Brunnstrom)

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