As trial lawyers, we have seen it all. At least I thought so until this case. If ever there was a “worst boss” contest, billionaire Alkiviades “Alki” David would probably be the winner. If half of what a former employee says is true, David takes sexual harassment to a new low.
But is he guilty? Alki David is fighting back and says that he is the victim.
Our story centers around Elizabeth (we aren’t publishing the victim’s last name). She worked at a company called FilmOn, an internet television company based in California.
Elizabeth claims that during her 6 months working at FilmOn, she was repeatedly sexually harassed by Alki David. Her complaints go well beyond a mere hostile workplace, however. If her claims are true, she was physically assaulted as well.
According to her complaint and testimony, Elizabeth claims that she was repeatedly groped. That’s terrible for any worker but it gets worse. She also says she was once tied to a chair. She even says she was carried upside down through the office by her ankles.
And there’s even more…
Elizabeth says that David showed office workers his “mangina”. That gross display consisted of him shoving his penis between his legs.
On another occasion, he “forced” employees to watch a pornographic scat video and even brought a male stripper into the office.
Elizabeth’s claims at this point are just allegations, although Alki David isn’t denying all of them. [The trial is ongoing and until and unless a jury says otherwise, we must presume his innocence.]
David spoke with a legal reporter from Law360. In discussing the scat video, David told the reporter that he plans to show the video to jurors. He said, “That is epic. That will be a truly epic moment in legal history."
Is he serious? Probably, although there is no assurance that the judge will allow it to be played. If it is played, we think it helps Elizabeth’s case, not his.
David’s defense appears to be that most of his actions were harmless horseplay. It’s Hollywood, he says, and somehow in his mind that makes things okay. Despite David's ridiculous courtroom antics and outbursts, one defense witness may derail Elizabeth's claims.
Since this post was originally written during the trial, on the last day of trial Carl Dawson took the stand for the defense. He was Elizabeth's direct supervisor. Dawson said Elizabeth was let go for horrible performance and never complained to him or HR about any type of abuse.The company's HR person offered similar testimony and claimed that email evidence Elizabeth produced during trial may have been faked.
Places of work aren’t supposed to be like Animal House, especially if someone objects or feels uncomfortable. Given Elizabeth’s claims, we can’t imagine how anyone wouldn’t be offended and uncomfortable. But are the allegations true? The jury has its work cut out for it.
While admitting some of Elizabeth’s claims, David is adamant that he never sexually touched her.
Alleged Harasser Sues Victim
There are two sides to every story, and although David admits some of the behaviors claimed by Elizabeth, he still says he is innocent. So innocent that he sued her and her lawyer.
Can the defendant in a sexual harassment case sue the victim? Unfortunately, yes.
In a rare move, David sued Elizabeth and her attorney. Elizabeth is standing tall and says his countersuit is nothing more than retaliation and more harassment.
According to David’s countersuit, “In January, February, March and April 2016, [Elizabeth and her attorney] attempted to extort money from [David]”. He also says her claims of “sexual harassment, sexual battery, assault and battery, retaliation, defamation, wrongful termination, false imprisonment, invasion of privacy, wiretapping and wage and hour violations” are “specious and false.”
The trial just started. FilmOn has a lawyer but billionaire Alkiviades David is representing himself. Despite a recent $11.1 million jury verdict against him by another former employee, David doesn’t seem too worried. [After that April 2019 verdict, a representative for David said the award was “ridiculous” and that he wasn’t paying it.]
In the current trial, David is facing sanctions by trial judge Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Christopher K. Lui. Law360 says the first “two days of trial proceedings so far have been dominated by his aggressive behavior and profane outbursts, in which he's referred to Taylor as ‘that bitch over there’ and a ‘known psychopath,’ and her attorney Bloom as a ‘liar’ and ‘shitbag.’ Since then, he was sanctioned and fines.
Will his courtroom antics resonate with a jury? We don’t think so. They certainly didn’t in the last trial where $8 million of the $11.1 million verdict represented punitive damages.
In the current trial, media sources say that David threw a fake crying fit at one point in the courtroom. He also appeared in court and spoke to the jury wearing a Hawaiian shirt, furry Gucci flip-flops and exercise pants. In his last trial he also had outbursts.
And if the big tent of this circus trial wasn’t enough, Elizabeth’s lawyer apparently has her own issues. In the closing days of the presidential election she was allegedly trying to raise donor cash to get Trump sexual harassment accusers to step forward. [Since this post was first written, the jury has come back with a verdict... keep reading!]
Lessons from the Alkiviades David Cases
The trial is certainly fascinating. Beyond the scurrilous allegations and wild courtroom antics there are several takeaways.
Counterclaims in Sexual Harassment Lawsuits
We have rarely encountered defendants in sexual harassment cases filing counterclaims or counter suits. We believe that most victims of sexual harassment are just that, true victims. Making up a story or embellishing one’s story can backfire, however.
A small percentage of sexual harassment claims are phony. And that’s a tragedy that hurts real victims.
Lie or stretch the truth and you can find yourself being sued. And that is what David is suggesting. He says that Elizabeth and her lawyer are just trying to financially exploit the #MeToo movement.
The lawyer defending David’s company, FilmOn, portrayed Elizabeth as a heavily medicated victim of her own failed attempt to become a professional wrestler.
We have our own opinions about the claims and counterclaims of both David and Elizabeth. More importantly, we think that the jury will quickly sort things out and find the truth.
When counterclaims are filed, they typically are nothing more than bully tactics. The employer wants both to make an example of the victim so that other employees don’t step forward and to intimidate the victim.
When you file a sexual harassment claim, always make sure you have the best representation possible. While counterclaims are rare, you want a strong lawyer in your court. One that is willing to fight big corporations or high-power lawyers (or in the case of Alkiviades David, a billionaire).
Punitive Damages in Sexual Harassment Cases
The law on punitive damages varies widely state by state. Many states have capped those laws or allow judges to trim awards. These damages are awarded when the jury believes that the wrongdoer should be punished. They are also used as a tool to deter future wrongful conduct.
Some states have caps on punitive damages which are based on a percentage of the total recovery or a dollar amount or both. Even states that don’t have punitive damage caps are still bound by the Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court says that a punitive damage award must bear a reasonable relationship to the total compensation awarded the plaintiff or victim.
The jury voted 8-4 in favor of Alki David.
We need to eat crow. While we had doubts about the case, we thought Elizabeth would win. (Earlier in the post we said, "Will his courtroom antics resonate with a jury? We don’t think so.")
Although we had doubts, David's last accuser won big and we found David's behavior abhorrent in this case. Obviously, most jurors saw things the other way around. In a civil case in California, the plaintiff must convince at least 9 jurors in order to win. She only convinced 8.
We are firm believers in the jury system. They heard the evidence and didn't think Elizabeth was credible.
Unfortunately, the trial became a circus with Alkiviades David and Elizabeth's lawyer being the center of attention.
Are You the Victim of Sexual Harassment? You May Be Entitled to Compensation
If you are the victim of unwanted touching, sexual advances, or comments of sexual nature, you may be entitled to compensation.
Compensation in a sexual harassment case typically includes:
- Back pay
- Future pay (pay until you are able to secure new employment)
- Pay differentials (the difference between your old wages and new wage)
- Loss of benefits (vacation, pension, health insurance, etc.)
- Pain and suffering (emotional distress)
- Out of pocket expenses (resume service, travel for interviews)
- Attorney’s fees
- Punitive damages (in exceptional cases)
Under federal law there are limits on how much you can be awarded for non-wage damages. These limits are based on the size of your employer.
State laws vary from state by state. That means depending on where you are, it may be more beneficial to file a claim under state or federal law. We can help advise you the best course of action.
To learn more, visit our visit our sexual harassment FAQ page. We also invite you to read many of the other posts on this website.
Ready to see if you have a claim? Contact us online, by email [hidden email] or by phone at 888.249.6944.
Our team of lawyers as well as our national network of sexual harassment lawyers throughout the United States are ready to fight for your rights. We will thoroughly review your case and truthfully share with you the strengths and weakness of your case. We will also present your case in court; hire experts and investigators to help prove your case; and take your case all the way to trial if your employer won’t settle.
Please note our practice is limited to cases where the employee has lost his or her job or suffered serious monetary losses. Cases are accepted on a contingency fee basis meaning you don’t pay unless we win.
All inquiries are kept strictly confidential.
There is no reason why any employee should suffer from a hostile workplace. Constant harassment and hostility can mean more damages than lost wages. Your health and professional reputation can also suffer.