A Los Angeles jury has ordered billionaire Alki David, who is of Greek Cypriot origin, to pay $50 million in punitive damages after finding him liable for battery, sexual battery and sexual harassment against a former employee, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The award is among the highest ever for an employment case and is the latest in a string of legal setbacks for the controversial billionaire, the newspaper added.
Last week, the same jury awarded Mahim Khan, a former production assistant who worked at David’s media companies, including FilmOn TV and Alki David Productions Inc., $8.25 million in compensatory damages.
Among the allegations in Khan’s lawsuit, she said that in 2014 David, heir to a Coca-Cola bottling fortune (he ranked 58th in the Sunday Times list of the richest British residents in 2019 with a net worth in the billions) thrust his pelvic area into her face, simulated oral sex, moaned, zipped up his pants and walked away saying, “Thanks, M.K.”
A California jury in April ordered David to pay another employee, Chasity Jones, $11.1 million. She said he fired her after she refused to have sex with him. Jones later agreed to a reduction in compensatory damages by $437,120. Punitive damages remained at $8 million. Last month, a judge ordered David to pay her lawyer, Lisa Bloom, attorney fees totaling $1.34 million.
Last month, a jury found in favour of Lauren Reeves, a former comedy writer at Hologram USA, awarding her $650,000 in compensatory damages and $4.35 million in punitive damages. In 2016, Reeves alleged David put his hands on her throat and pushed her chair into a wall, banging her head, among other claims. According to her suit, David told Reeves that he needed to buy supplies for his “rape room.”
In October, a jury deadlocked in former FilmOn account executive Elizabeth Taylor’s case and the judge declared a mistrial. A suit filed in 2016 was settled out of court.
David has disputed the allegations of sexual misconduct, saying, “I never touched any of these women.”
David, who represented himself in the Taylor trial, remained belligerent, defiant and disruptive throughout his multiple trials in Los Angeles County Superior Court. He frequently erupted in profanity-laced outbursts while mocking his accusers and their attorneys, earning him nearly $10,000 in sanctions; he was ejected from the courtroom on several occasions.
The judge in the Khan trial revoked David’s right to represent himself, prompting him to bolt from the courtroom.
In a statement following the jury’s awarding Khan $50 million in punitive damages, David protested his innocence while criticizing the decision, the judge, as well as Bloom, who represented two of his accusers, and Gloria Allred and her partner Nathan Goldberg, who represented Khan. “How is it justice if I’m not allowed to present any defence at all?” he said.
At a news conference held after the decision, Allred read a statement from Khan that said: “I hope the punitive damages verdict sends a message to Alki David to never, ever think of violating another woman’s body.”
One of the jurors, 90-year-old Reg Green, called David’s behaviour “grotesque” and said that in determining the amount awarded, “it was clear to me quite soon that he was a force that could not be contained unless there was a major penalty to pay,” the Los Angeles Times added.