Four men Tuesday were collectively ordered to pay nearly $40 million to a brother and sister severely beaten after acting as good Samaritans outside a West Hollywood restaurant in 2015.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated for about a day before finding in favor of Anne Greene and Matthew Greene in their lawsuit filed in December 2016 against 66-year-old Maurice Driz, a former co-owner of some Blaze Pizza franchises; Maurice’s twin brother, Alberto; Maurice’s son, 30-year-old Shawn Driz; and 31-year-old William Joelson, a Driz family friend.
The panel awarded a total of $20.1 million to Anne Greene and $17.9 million to her brother.
All the defendants acted as their own attorneys during the trial. When they were represented by attorney Maria Hall, she argued in their court papers that the Greenes were the aggressors. Hall later filed a motion to be relieved as the Driz counsel and her request was granted in December 2019.
In his final argument Monday, lawyer Christopher V. Bulone, on behalf of the Greenes, said none of the defendants told the truth during the trial.
“Each man lied through his teeth right to your faces,” Bulone said.
The case arose out of a melee that started about 1:30 a.m. April 17, 2015, outside the Nice Guy restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard, according to the suit.
The evening before, Matthew Greene, a restaurant owner, along with associates Jeremy Findel and Marianne Hagstrom, visited various restaurants for research in tweaking their bar menu, making the Nice Guy their last stop, the suit stated.
Anne Greene, now 39, accepted an invitation by her brother, now 43, to join them at the Nice Guy, the suit stated.
The group was enjoying drinks on an outdoor patio at the Nice Guy when Anne Greene heard a commotion outside the establishment and felt compelled to intervene, the suit stated.
The Driz brothers at first began berating a valet, then turned their ire on two photographers, the suit stated.
When the Greene siblings intervened, the attacks on them began, leaving Anne Greene with a broken skull and her brother with a fractured spine, Bulone said.
“Matthew was a very active guy physically,” Bulone told jurors. “Now he’s a prisoner trapped in a body that will never work in a way that it’s supposed to again.”
Although six years have passed, both plaintiffs cried during their testimony about the incident, Bulone said.
Anne Greene once worked as a model and actress and now finds it hard to have relationships with men, Bulone said.
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