An $8.25 million compensatory damages verdict awarded to a woman who said she was groped and sexually harassed while working as a production assistant for a billionaire hologram producer and television content streamer in 2014-15 will stand, a judge ruled Friday in denying a new trial to two of the businessman’s companies.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michelle Williams Court’s clerk issued a minute order reflecting the judge’s decision in 36-year-old Mahim Khan’s lawsuit against Alki David Productions Inc. and Filmon TV Inc.
Both sides submitted court papers reflecting their positions. No hearing was held and no arguments were heard.
The jury reached its verdict on Nov. 26. On Dec. 2, the same panel ordered 51-year-old Alki David to pay $50 million in punitive damages after finding he acted with malice, oppression or fraud. His companies were not required to pay any of the punitive damages.
In their court papers in favor of a new trial, lawyers for the David companies maintained the evidence was insufficient to justify the verdict, resulting in excessive damages. They also argued that an improper argument by Khan’s lawyer prejudiced the companies, and that denying them a mistrial at the time was an error of law.
The defense’s mistrial argument asserted that it was improper for Khan’s lawyer to comment on the failure of the opposing party to produce evidence when the same facts were equally available to both sides.
Khan testified during the trial that she became withdrawn from friends and preferred to stay home in her pajamas because of months of harassment by David. The tall and slender plaintiff also testified she gained 30 pounds, and her attorneys displayed photos to show jurors how she looked at the time.
The jury found that David committed battery and sexual battery. The panel also concluded that David and his companies subjected Kahn to a hostile work environment.
The judge dismissed a third David entity, Hologram USA Inc., as a defendant in the trial before the jury began deliberating.
David represented himself during the earlier stages of the trial, but the judge stripped him of that right and limited the defense he could present after he made repeated outbursts in court in violation of her orders to refrain from lashing out at Khan and her attorneys and to cease commenting about the case in front of the jury.
The Khan verdicts came just over a month after 36-year-old Lauren Reeves won more than $5 million in compensatory and punitive damages against David in another sexual harassment case.
Last April, 42-year-old Chasity Jones was awarded $11 million in compensatory and punitive damages against David. She 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.
Last Sept. 3, Judge Christopher Lui declared a mistrial in the case of Jones’ co-plaintiff, 32-year-old Elizabeth Taylor, after jurors deadlocked 8-4 in favor of David.
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.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: