A comedy writer who was awarded $5 million by a jury in 2019 in a sexual harassment case against her former boss was granted another $1.3 million in attorneys’ fees by a judge, court papers obtained Thursday show.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Terry Green issued his order July 22 in favor of 36-year-old Lauren Reeves. Last October, Reeves was awarded $650,000 in compensatory damages against billionaire Alki David and his companies, Hologram USA Inc. and Alki David Productions Inc., and $4.35 million in punitive damages against David only.
Reeves was one of several plaintiffs who took sexual harassment cases against David to trial last year. In April 2019, 43-year-old Chasity Jones was awarded $11 million in compensatory and punitive damages. 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.
On Sept. 3 last year, 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.
Reeves told jurors she had two stints working as an independent contractor for David, one in 2015 at FilmOn TV and another in 2016 at Hologram USA. She said she came back the second time to pitch an idea to him because she was interested in working with holograms.
David twice put his hands around Reeves’ throat in the workplace in April 2016, the second time occurring in front of a comedian with whom she was having a conversation, the plaintiff said. She said David demanded during the alleged assault that she look into his eyes, and said he was bullied as a child.
On another occasion as the two walked to a nearby grocery store, David told Reeves he was stopping to get supplies for his “rape room,” she alleged. In still another incident, David placed one of his fingers in his mouth, made moaning sounds and uttered a comment that referred to the private parts of her celebrity boyfriend at the time, Reeves testified.
Reeves’ lawyer, Nathan Goldberg, said the final straw for Reeves came in September 2016, when David returned from an absence and summoned her to his office for an update on a new show.
David allegedly closed the window blinds and the door, dropped his pants and forced her head toward his private parts. He then opened the door and called a sales executive into the office, hoping to convince the other man that she was giving David oral sex, according to the plaintiff, who said she left and never went back.
But David’s lawyer, Ellyn Garofalo, argued that Reeves knew what she was getting into when she went to work for David, whose companies did not just make holograms, but also did television streaming with content meant to shock and make people think. Reeves created her own sexually oriented material, according to Garofalo, who showed written examples on a screen to jurors during trial.
About 99% of those who worked for David enjoyed doing so, Garofalo said.
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.