A judge Wednesday denied a motion that could have led to the start of proceedings allowing for the entry of a default against a billionaire hologram producer who repeatedly lashed out at the plaintiff’s lawyers during trial of a sexual harassment suit brought by one of his former employees.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rafael Ongkeko said lawyers for Elizabeth Taylor had not presented a convincing argument that 51-year-old Alki David’s ongoing outbursts in the Taylor case and in other similar trials warranted such a drastic measure, known as terminating sanctions.
“Plaintiff … argues terminating sanctions are warranted because of David’s egregious misconduct in the Taylor trial, as well as misconduct in other trials before other judges,” Ongkeko wrote. “However, plaintiff does not cite any authority that permits this court to sanction David based on his conduct in other trials before different judicial officers. The lack of such authority is not surprising.”
The first trial of Taylor’s allegations ended with jurors deadlocked 8-4 in David’s favor on Sept. 3. Judge Christopher Lui presided over the trial because Ongkeko was on another assignment.
In support of their argument for terminating sanctions, Taylor’s lawyers presented a sworn declaration by jury forewoman Sara Caplan concerning the effects of David’s unorthodox conduct on the panel.
“During juror deliberations, the jury was extremely swayed by Mr. David’s outbursts and other evidence that was stricken by Judge Lui,” Caplan said in her declaration submitted Dec. 24. “For example, the jury believed Mr. David’s continued rants that the case was a conspiracy perpetuated by trial counsel Lisa Bloom. I reminded the jury that there was no evidence of this conspiracy, but certain jurors were steadfast in their belief that what Mr. David said was true.”
Multiple members of the jury believed that Bloom orchestrated the lawsuits of Taylor, as well as another plaintiff, Chasity Jones, and other women against David, according to Caplan. Those jurors believed the women were “only out to get his money because Mr. David continually shouted this in open court,” and consequently gave little weight to the testimony of Taylor and other witnesses who spoke favorably of her, Caplan said.
David acted as his own attorney during the Taylor trial. Attorneys Ellyn Garofalo and Amir Kaltgrad represented his companies, FilmOnTV, Hologram USA and Hologram USA Entertainment Inc.
Garofalo said previously that she considered the mistrial a victory. She predicted the outcome would be the same if the case was retried, calling Taylor a “flawed plaintiff.”
Taylor said she was hired in January 2015 as an account executive at FilmOnTV and fired that June. She testified that David once picked her up by the ankles and walked her upside down around the office, exposing her underwear. She also said he played an offensive video on her computer and brought a male stripper into the workplace to celebrate a female executive’s birthday.
In her own sworn statement, the 32-year-old Taylor said that since the mistrial, David has “continued to harass, degrade and cyberbully me on social media. I remain fearful for my physical safety. I fear and have no doubt that Mr. David will continue his harassing and tyrannical behavior through my next trial.”
Last month, 36-year-old Mahim Khan, another former David employee, won $58.25 million in compensatory and punitive damages in her lawsuit accusing him of groping and sexually harassing her.
The Khan verdict came just over a month after 36-year-old Lauren Reeves, who had two stints as an independent contractor for David’s companies, won more than $5 million in compensatory and punitive damages against him in another sexual harassment case.
In April, Jones, another former David employee, was awarded $11 million in compensatory and punitive damages against David. The 42-year-old plaintiff later agreed to a reduction of about $445,000 after Ongkeko found the amount of out-of-pocket damages awarded her was excessive.
David also had frequent outbursts during the Green and Khan trials, but was present for only a short time in the Jones trial.
David was behind the hologram technology that brought slain rapper Tupac Shakur to Coachella in 2012 and saw the late Michael Jackson moonwalk at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards.