In one of Los Angeles County’s largest defamation lawsuits, Filipino American Elizabeth Tagle was awarded $74 million after winning a defamation case against GUESS? co-founder Georges Marciano on July 29.
Marciano, who is currently running for governor of California, sued five of his ex-employees and business associates between Aug. 2007 and April 2008. He claimed they committed conspiracy and embezzlement, and stole millions of dollars worth of cash, coins, wines, and art.
The denim mogul’s complaint was dismissed by Judge Elizabeth Allen White in Dec. 2008. The case was revived when former employees filed cross-complaints for alleged defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
“I think the plaintiffs displayed real courage,” said Cheryl Deptowicz-Diaz, a Filipino American attorney who represented Tagle. “They fought back against one of the most powerful and richest men they have ever known. Marciano made it his business to do everything in his power to destroy their lives.”
Tagle recalled Marciano sending an email that put her, along with other employees, on leave. Shortly after, he fired them and accused them of various criminal activities including fraud and embezzlement.
Tagle had been Marciano’s bookkeeper for almost 10 years.
The former employees did nothing wrong, according to reports from private forensic audits and independent investigations conducted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Beverly Hills Police Department.
Judge White set a separate jury trial to determine compensatory and punitive damages after ruling that Marciano’s conduct toward his ex-employees was intentional and malicious.
A jury awarded Tagle $69 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. ♦