Jury Orders Guess? Co-Founder to Empty Pockets

Guess? Inc. co-founder Georges Marciano must pay about $370 million to five former employees.

A jury determined that Marciano defamed the former employees and caused them emotional distress, a lawyer said Tuesday.

The Los Angeles Superior Court jury on Monday found Marciano liable to  each of the five workers for about $69 million in compensatory damages and $5  million in punitive damages, according to R. Rex Parris, an attorney for ex-Marciano employees Miriam Choi and Camille Abat.

"This is one of the largest defamation verdicts ever handed down in Los  Angeles County," Parris said. "This verdict shows that being rich does not  mean you have the power to ruin the lives of other people on a whim or  suspicion."

Parris said the judgment was entered against Marciano Tuesday and that it  can now be carried out.

"We'll probably start seizing his Ferraris by the end of the week,"  Parris said.

Eric George, an attorney for Marciano, was not immediately available for comment, according to City News Service.

In addition to his involvement in Guess?, an apparel and accessory  company, Marciano's business operations include investments in fine art, which  he has bought and sold through various auction houses over the past 20 years.

In August 2007, Marciano brought a lawsuit against Joseph Fahs, an  information technology employee. In February 2008, Marciano amended his  complaint to incorporate four additional former employees: Choi, a Marciano  business manager; Abat, a receptionist; Steven Chapnick and Elizabeth Tagle.

Marciano alleged that Fahs, Choi, Abat, Chapnick and Tagle embezzled  money and stole property from him.

All five former employees filed separate cross-complaints against  Marciano, whose original complaint against them was dismissed last Dec. 31.

In May, Judge Elizabeth Allen White found that Marciano was liable for  defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress against each cross- complainant, and that he had committed those acts with the malice, oppression  and/or fraud necessary to justify an award of punitive damages.  

White then set a jury trial for damages at the employees' request. 

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