Woman tortured to death by her fiancee, the father of her child. $41.6M. Los Angeles County.

Summary

Gruesome murder results in large punitive damages award following civil trial.

The Case

  • Case Name: Kasian v. Leibel
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC 624321
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, February 15, 2019
  • Type of Action: Wrongful Death
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Bobbi Tillmon
  • Plaintiffs:
    Diana Kasian, 3, (daughter of decedent).
    Olga Kasian, 60, (mother of decedent).
    Estate of Iana Kasian (decedent).
  • Defendants:
    Blake Leibel
  • Type of Result: Bench Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $41,600,000
  • Non-Economic Damages:

    $30,000,000 combined for three plaintiffs.

    $1,600,000 for Diana Kasian.

  • Punitive Damages:

    $10,000,000 for Estate.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    The Simon Law Group by Thomas J. Conroy and Siannah Collado-Boutte, Hermosa Beach.

    Law Offices of Jake D. Finkel by Jake D. Finkel, Los Angeles.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Defendant's attorney withdrew prior to trial.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Enrique Vega, vocational analysis.

    Constantine Boukidis, forensic economics.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Wrongful death and survivorship action following the murder of plaintiffs' decedent, Iana Kasian, by defendant Blake Leibel, the father of Iana's newborn baby girl. Defendant was convicted of the criminal homicide in June 2018; the civil trial proceeded to verdict in 2019.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Iana Kasian was tortured, mutilated and ultimately killed by the defendant over the course of several hours, some time between May 24 and 26, 2016. The decedent's cause of death was ultimately ruled to be comprehensive exsanguination (complete loss of blood from the body). The evidence showed the decedent lived for a prolonged period of time after defendant began inflicting the gruesome trauma, and in fact fought back against her assailant, thus sustaining a compelling survivorship claim for the Estate of the decedent in addition to the wrongful death claim.

Additional Notes

Given the uncontested nature of the evidentiary presentation, plaintiff elected to proceed with a bench trial, putting faith in the court's ability as trier-of-fact to receive and work with the extremely disturbing evidence of the trauma sustained by the decedent, as well as receive the evidence of the nature of the compelling loss sustained by the family of the decedent. 

Defendant was a graphic novelist; newspaper reports indicate that he is the son of a wealthy Canadian family and lived off a trust fund. Plaintiffs' counsel notes that, "at trial we addressed punitive damages and the defendant's ability to to satisfy an award of same, but the ultimate question of recovery was immaterial to the trial proceedings, as were any details about the defendant's family."

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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