Some jurors tasked with deciding a lawsuit brought by a woman who accused a hologram producer of sexual harassment were significantly swayed in favor of the billionaire businessman by his frequent courtroom outbursts and even thought the judge was on his side, according to a sworn statement submitted by the jury forewoman.
Sara Caplan offered her opinions in a declaration in support of plaintiff Elizabeth Taylor’s motion for the start of proceedings that could allow for the entry of a default against 51-year-old Alki David ahead of the scheduled retrial of the case, now set for May 11.
The first trial ended with jurors deadlocked 8-4 in David’s favor on Sept. 3.
“During juror deliberations, the jury was extremely swayed by Mr. David’s outbursts and other evidence that was stricken by Judge (Christopher) 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,” Caplan stated.
Consequently, those jurors gave little weight to the testimony of Taylor and other witnesses who spoke favorably of her, according to Caplan.
“The conspiracy theory idea was an important factor in these jurors’ final determination against Ms. Taylor,” Caplan said.
Over time, David’s outbursts had an effect on some jurors, she said.
“The fact that Mr. David remained in the courtroom for so long and kept having outbursts fully tainted the jury,” Caplan said. “Judge Lui’s instructions to disregard stricken evidence was disregarded by multiple jury members who continued to credit Mr. David’s outbursts. This was very significant in our deliberations.”
Several jurors believed the judge was on David’s side because he was so patient with the defendant, according to Caplan.
“They thought that because Judge Lui gave him so many warnings, it was proof that Judge Lui thought of Mr. David as a wronged character who was rightfully angry,” Caplan said. “They thought Judge Lui had sympathy for him and was trying to help him.”
Caplan said that during one of the first days of trial, she found a flyer in the courthouse cafeteria of the courthouse that read, “Alki David Passed A Lie Detector” with what appeared to be a report of a polygraph examination test.
“I immediately brought this document to the attention of Judge Lui and did not discuss it with my fellow jurors,” Caplan said.
David acted as his own attorney during the 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.”
The hearing on the motion that could lead to the entry of a default against David is set for Jan. 22. In their court papers, Taylor’s lawyers say the legal step is appropriate in David’s case.
“Given the abundant examples of Mr. David’s deliberate and egregious conduct … including his conduct during his two subsequent trials … there is no plausible possibility that Mr. David will sufficiently curb his outrageous behavior to allow for a fair retrial,” Taylor’s lawyers state in their court papers.
Earlier this 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 Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rafael Ongkeko found the amount of out-of-pocket damages awarded her was excessive.
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.
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