California Jury Returned an $11.1 Million Award against an Executive and His Company for Employment-Related Harassment Claims

California Jury Returned an $11.1 Million Dollar Award against an Executive and His Companies for Sexual Harassment, Battery and Other Employment-Related Harassment Claims

On April 26, 2019 in the case entitled, Elizabeth Taylor et al. v. Alkiviades David et al.,Los Angeles Superior Case number BC649025, a California jury held FilmOn founder and executive, Alki David liable for $8 million in punitive damages for committing sexual battery against a former female employee. The day before, April 25, 2019, the jury concluded that Mr. David repeatedly sexually harassed and battered plaintiff Chastity Jones when she worked as a sales executive for his companies FilmOn.TV Networks Inc. and Hologram USA.  The jury ordered Mr. David and his two companies to pay a combined $4.6 million. The next day, April 26, 2019, however, the jurors reduced the compensatory damages to $3.1 million after indicating they had misunderstood the verdict form regarding a question about punitive damages, and concluded that David’s malicious behavior resulted in the jury awarding an additional $8 million in punitive damages. The sum total of the award by the jury was $11.1 million. 

 

Beginning in 2015, Ms. Jones worked as a sales executive for internet-based television provider FilmOn and for Hologram USA, both of which were run by Mr. David.  Ms. Jones contended that during her time at the companies she was subjected to a hostile work environment because of David’s repeated sexual harassment and battery towards her. Ms. Jones alleged that the companies knew about the conduct but didn’t act to stop it, with Mr. David retaliating against her by terminating her employment, after she continued to rebuff his advances.

 

In closing arguments, Mr. David’s attorney Ellyn S. Garofalo from the law firm of Venable LLP addressed Jones’ “unacceptable” behavior in which Mr. David lashed out at plantiff’s counsel, Lisa Bloom, in front of the jury. Ms. Garofalo stated, “You may not like Mr. David. You may think he’s coarse and crude, but that does not prove the sexually violent acts Ms. Jones has alleged.” Ms. Garofalo stated that she would not excuse or apologize for Mr. David’s behavior at trial, but said it was not evidence that he ever attacked Jones or engaged in unlawful conduct towards her. She said Mr. David lashed out when he was angry because he believed that the allegations were false. Ms. Bloom stated that Mr. David’s behavior in the courtroom was illustrative of his behavior in the workplace, even quoting from the renowed poet, Maya Angelou who said, “when someone tells you who they are, believe them.” 

 

Ms. Jones filed her lawsuit in February 2017 with former co-worker Elizabeth Taylor, who alleged that on separate occasions Mr. David grabbed her buttocks, reached up her dress, forced her to dance and grabbed her ankles to make her walk on her hands like a wheelbarrow.  Ms. Taylor alleges that Mr. David fired her in June 2015 on the same day she tried to report the sexual harassment to someone at the company. The judge bifurcated (separated) the cases; Ms. Taylor’s sexual harassment and wrongful termination claims will go to trial in July of this year. Ms. Garofalo indicated that Mr. David will appeal the verdict.

 

For more information on this case or prosecuting or defending employment-related harassment claims, please feel free to contact Lisa Sherman at (424) 249-3631 or [email protected]

 

Lisa Sherman
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California Employer Defense Attorney