LOS ANGELES -- Jurors awarded nearly $777,000 Tuesday to a former "The Price is Right" model who claimed that she was discriminated against by producers because of her pregnancy.
Brandi Cochran, 41, said she was rejected by the game show's producers when she tried to return to work in early 2010 after taking maternity leave.
The Superior Court jury determined that her pregnancy was the reason she wasn't rehired and it awarded Cochran $776,944 in the suit against producers FremantleMedia North America and The Price is Right Productions.
In their defense, producers said that they were satisfied with the five models working on the show at the time Cochran sought to return. Their counsel also noted how the show was in a period of transition under new host Drew Carey, and so needed fewer models.
But Cochran also spoke about a history of being harassed for her pregnancy on the set. In one instance, she claimed that a producer on the show blurted out, "wide load coming through," as she walked by. And when an earlier pregnancy ended in a miscarriage in 2007, she alleged that a producer told her, "it's nature's way of getting rid of a bad baby."
A second phase of the trial will determine whether Cochran should be awarded punitive damages in the pregnancy discrimination case. Cochran's attorneys had asked for more than $8 million, City News Service reported.
In a statement, FremantleMedia said it expects to be "fully vindicated" after an appeal, adding that it stands behind executive producer Mike Richards and the show's staff.
"We believe the verdict in this case was the result of a flawed process in which the court, among other things, refused to allow the jury to hear and consider that 40 percent of our models have been pregnant," and further "important" evidence, FremantleMedia said.
A call seeking comment from Cochran's attorney wasn't immediately returned Tuesday.
The verdict is a rare one for a program that has seen other lawsuits. Longtime host Bob Barker, who retired in 2007, was sued by some of the show's hostesses for sexual harassment and wrongful termination.
Most of the cases involving "Barker's Beauties" -- the nickname given the gown-wearing women who presented prizes to contestants -- ended with out-of-court settlements.
One particularly high-profile case took place in 1995, when Holly Hallstrom walked away with a multimillion dollar award. In her case, she claimed she was let go for gaining 14 pounds and not helping Barker fight back against charges made by other models on the show.
AOL Jobs contributed to this report.
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