Four men who previously were collectively ordered to pay about $40 million to a brother and sister and a third man severely beaten after acting as good Samaritans outside a West Hollywood restaurant in 2015 were additionally directed to pay the trio millions of dollars more in punitive damages.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated for about a day before assessing punitive damages on Thursday stemming from injuries suffered by siblings Matthew and Anne Greene as well as Jeremy Findel, a work associate of Matthew Greene.
The defendants in the lawsuit filed in December 2016 were 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.
Regarding Anne Greene’s punitive damages, Maurice Driz was assessed $5.8 million; Alberto Driz, $4.8 million; Shawn Driz, $2.3 million; and Joelson, $1.4 million.
In the jury’s calculation of Matthew Greene’s punitive damages, Joelson was assessed $5.7 million, Alberto Driz, $5.2 million; Maurice Driz, $4.9 million; and Shawn Driz, $4.4 million.
In Findel’s punitive damages award, the Driz brothers were each assessed $2.1 million; Joelson, $1.5 million; and Shawn Driz, $1 million.
On Tuesday, the same panel ordered the four defendants to collectively pay $20.1 million in compensatory damages to Anne Greene, $17.9 million to her brother and $2.1 million to Findel. The jury also found that the defendants acted with malice, triggering a second phase of trial on punitive damages.
All of 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 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.
Findel suffered a concussion and brain injury, according to his court papers.
Anne Greene once worked as a model and actress and now finds it hard to have relationships with men, according to Bulone, who also said that Shawn Driz is the longtime boyfriend of 30-year-old Christina Schwarzenegger, the second child of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver.
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