A judge said Wednesday she is inclined to reinstate a lawsuit filed by Skype’s co-founder seeking the return of a $471,000 ring and other property he gave his ex-girlfriend in the expectation that they would wed.
In July, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Deirdre Hill found that the ex- couple’s native Denmark was a more suitable forum for Janus Friis to pursue his case originally filed in California against Aura Dione. Friis’ lawyers appealed and also filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that newly discovered information demonstrated “extrinsic fraud” by Dione.
In a tentative ruling, Hill said she was leaning toward reversing her previous decision, but did not say when she would have a final decision.
Lawyers for Dione, a Danish singer whose real name is Maria Louise Joensen, argued in July that the case should be dismissed in California and refiled in Denmark because the ring is located there and neither she nor Friis live in the Golden State. Dione resides in Denmark and Friis in the United Kingdom.
But Friis’ lawyers stated in their court papers seeking reconsideration of the July decision that Dione’s attorneys agreed to waive any defense that Friis had waited too long to bring the case in Denmark. Hill issued her dismissal ruling based on such a promise, according to Friis’ lawyers’ court papers.
However, in a series of emails between Danish lawyers for Friis and Dione, the singer’s attorney “asserted that the statute of limitations had run on any Danish action,” according to Friis’ attorneys court papers.
By promising that Dione would not claim that Friis’ allegations were time-barred in Denmark, her attorneys prevented Friis’ legal team from arguing that the European nation was not an appropriate alternative location to bring his lawsuit, according to the court papers. Friis has not yet sued Dione in Denmark concerning the ring and the other property.
Dione’s Brooklyn-based lawyer, Gregory L. Smith, said by a speaker phone linked to Hill’s courtroom that he was surprised by the judge’s turnabout.
“I don’t understand why the court has done a 180 from its last tentative decision,” Smith said.
Smith stated in his court papers that Friis has made “zero effort” to sue Dione in Denmark and instead filed an appeal of Hill’s July ruling.
Smith says Dione has not lived in the U.S. for more than a year. He described Friis as a “disgruntled boyfriend who is trying to make life as miserable as possible” for his client.
Friis’ suit, filed in August 2015, alleges that after he found out that Dione was cheating on him, he demanded the return of the engagement ring, designer clothes, a $6,000 handbag and other pricey items, most of which he says were bought in California.
The couple’s engagement ended when Friis learned “of Aura’s many indiscretions and her pattern of deceit, which took place, for the most part, in California,” according to his court papers.
Friis, now 40, proposed while the couple was flying from London to Denmark in his private jet in August 2013, according to the 31-year-old Dione. She says she returned permanently to Denmark in August 2015.
Friis and Niklas Zennstrom co-founded Skype and sold it to eBay for $2.6 billion in 2005. The Skype application provides video chat and voice call services.
—City News Service