Malicious prosecution action arises out of dispute over real estate partnership. $947K. Los Angeles County.

Summary

Partner withdraws from real estate deal and later commences litigation that leads to malicious prosecution action.

[Note: This Malicious Prosecution verdict report was earlier published incorrectly under the title of Real Estate actions.  Also, in the "Notes" section of the report, comments from both plaintiff and defense attorneys regarding Motions in Limine has been deleted.]

The Case

  • Case Name: Jensen v. Charon Solutions, Inc. and Perry Leonard Segal
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC469884
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, September 16, 2021
  • Date Action was Filed: Monday, September 19, 2011
  • Type of Action: Highlighted Verdicts, Malicious Prosecution
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Robert S. Draper
  • Plaintiffs:
    Peaches Nong Jensen
  • Defendants:
    Charon Solutions, Inc. and Perry Leonard Segal
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $447,300. Jury awarded pre-judgment interest.
  • Net Verdict or Award: $947,300: $447,300 compensatory plus $500,000 punitive damages awarded in first trial.
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    Total compensatory damages against all defendants jointly and severally: $447,300

    Punitive damages (from first trial) against Charon Solutions, Inc.: $250,000.00

    Punitive damages (from first trial) against Perry Leonard Segal: $250,000.00

  • Economic Damages:

    $7,300 (attorney fees defending underlying maliciously prosecuted action).

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Emotional distress: $400,000

    Impairment to reputation: $40,000

  • Punitive Damages:

    $250,000 against defendant Charon Solutions, Inc.

    $250,000 against defendant Perry Leonard Segal

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 9/7/2021 through 9/16/2021
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 54 minutes
  • Jury Polls: All unanimous 12-0 except Question 2 (Total amount of economic or noneconomic damage to plaintiff).
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: None yet.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Law Offices of Yvonne M. Renfrew by Yvonne M. Renfrew, Los Angeles.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Henry J. Josefsberg, Los Alamitos.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Parties (defendant Segal through his wholly-owned corporation, defendant Charon Solutions, Inc., and plaintiff Jensen through her wholly-owned corporation) formed an LLC (non-party P&P), which it was orally agreed would seek subdivision of a large hillside lot owned by plaintiff, and IF subdivision could be effected, then P&P would build a spec home on the split-off lot to be sold for profit.

    Before subdivision was effected, Charon withdrew from P&P. Defendants first attempted to intervene in litigation between plaintiff and the person who had sold plaintiff subject property while concealing severe earthquake damage, then (after withdrawing from P&P) sued plaintiff Jensen for fraud and other causes of action for her supposed "failure" to perform obligations with respect to the lot-split project.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That defendants claimed interest in plaintiff's property without legal or factual basis, and through both the attempted intervention and their later lawsuit sought to obtain ownership of (or ownership interest in) plaintiff Jensen's real property.

    Upon Charon's withdrawal from P&P, plaintiff – pursuant to the terms of the P&P Operating Agreement – offered reimbursement of all money expended by Segal or Charon in connection with the project, but defendants rejected that offer.

    This case was first tried by jury to a gross verdict of $1,500,000 (including punitive damages). Reversed and remanded for retrial as to compensatory damages only.  

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendants contended that through Segal's efforts in seeking approval of the subdivision of the lot, he and/or his corporation had acquired an "unperfected ownership interest" in the property.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Emotional distress.

  • Legal expense of defending underlying action.

Additional Notes

Per defense counsel:

This verdict is on a new trial for damages only caused by two of the six underlying causes of action. That is because probable cause existed for the fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and conversion causes of action alleged in the underlying matter. Only the unjust enrichment and declaratory relief causes of action were at issue in this re-trial. The Court of Appeal remanded for damages only.

 

Plaintiff's counsel's response:

In direct examination, defendant Segal, questioned allegation-by-allegation, admitted most allegations in main underlying action were either false or without factual foundation.

Remand was for retrial only of compensatory [not all] damages.

Defendants’ claims to have possessed “probable cause” for some causes of action was based solely on operation of the interim adverse judgment rule. In fact, however,  at the first trial the judge announced her determination that there existed no probable cause for any of the underlying litigation, which, the judge in the first trial ruled  was based on “nothing.” 

 

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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