Fitzgerald Knaier LLP Defends $1.6 Million Judgment on Appeal

 
SAN DIEGO - Sept. 29, 2015 - PRLog -- The California Court of Appeal issued an opinion today in the case of Medina v. Sarkisian, affirming a $1.6 million fraud and breach of fiduciary duty judgment entered in favor of Fitzgerald Knaier LLP client Rudy Medina, and against his former business partner, San Diego businessman John Sarkisian.  Sarkisian is the former CEO of Pat & Oscar’s Restaurants; Vice Chairman and founder of sporting goods manufacturer SKLZ; and a board member of BrightScope, a San Diego-based financial services company.  He is also a regular contributor to the San Diego Union Tribune’s Sunday Business Section EconoMeter panel.

Today’s decision brings an end to a long legal saga that began in 2007.  The case revolves around Sarkisian and Medina’s real estate company, Del Mar Heritage, LLC (“DMH”), which developed and owned properties throughout San Diego.  Medina contended that in February 2007, Sarkisian misled him into signing an agreement in which they separated their business interests.  Specifically, Medina claimed that Sarkisian duped him into selling his interests in two valuable DMH properties—at steep discounts—to Sarkisian’s friend and new business partner Willy Ayyad; and that shortly after separation was complete, both projects were sold for considerable gains—leading to substantial profits for Sarkisian and Ayyad.

Sarkisian originally sued Medina for defamation and tortious interference over a letter Medina sent to DMH investors regarding Sarkisian’s malfeasance, and Medina counterclaimed against Sarkisian for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty.  In a first jury trial that concluded in January 2011, the jury found in favor of Medina on Sarkisian’s claims, determining that Medina’s statements about Sarkisian were substantially true.  The jury deadlocked 8-4 in Medina’s favor on his claims against Sarkisian for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty.

The case was re-tried in August 2012.  After a three-week trial led by Ken Fitzgerald, the jury agreed with Medina, and awarded him $1,591,586—the amount he would have made if he had retained his interests in the two projects that Sarkisian arranged for him to sell to Ayyad.

Sarkisian appealed, arguing among other things that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding that he had committed fraud.  After briefing by Ken Fitzgerald and oral argument by Bob Knaier, the Court of Appeal rejected Sarkisian’s arguments.  The Court held that the jury had sufficient evidence from which to conclude that Sarkisian concealed material information from Medina and had secretly planned to sell the properties before Medina signed the separation agreement.

The Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment against Sarkisian, and the award of $1.6 million in damages to Medina.  That judgment has now grown to over $2.1 million, with interest.

Fitzgerald Knaier LLP is a trial oriented boutique law firm, focusing on business disputes, intellectual property litigation, and personal injury cases. For more information, go to http://www.fitzgeraldknaier.com.
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