Update: Park West Gallery - Appeal Verdict

I have just heard from one of the witnesses from the Park West/Fine Art Registry lawsuit that the $500,000.00 awarded to Fine Art Registry has been overturned on appeal, and the judge has ordered a new trial. Federal Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan was the appeals court judge and also the presiding judge at the trial. If you recall, the award to the Fine Art Registry was based on trademark infringement and immediately after the initial verdict Park West said they would appeal. Other parts of the verdict harmful to Park West were also overturned, leaving only the defamation acquittal of Bruce Hochman.

The Michigan Lawyer blog posted some of the Judges comments on the appeal verdict, and they are a rather strong rebuke of Fine Art Registry.

According to The Michigan Lawyer blog

On Aug. 12, Hon. Lawrence P. Zatkoff of U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan vacated the jury’s verdict and ordered a new trial. He said that FAR founder Theresa Franks and counsel Donald L. Payton and Jonathan H. Schwartz “engaged in persistent misconduct in front of the jury throughout the trial, and it would be fair to characterize the misconduct as ‘contumacious conduct.’”

For one, Zatkoff wrote, “counsel violated the Court’s in limine ruling regarding other legal disputes involving Plaintiff.”

Then, “Franks’ complaints that Plaintiff’s counsel was taking things ‘out of context’ and giving the jury only ‘bits and pieces’ are indicative of how she repeatedly attempted to prejudice the jury regarding rulings Plaintiff had appropriately obtained from this Court. … [T]here were many other times (both when she was called by Plaintiff and by her own counsel) that Franks’ testimony went far beyond what was appropriate or acceptable.”

And, during defendants’ opening statements, 15 newspapers and television stations that had written articles or aired shows about Plaintiff’s art cruises were mentioned. Because of that, “Plaintiff suffered the stigma in the jury’s eyes each time Plaintiff had to object to such reports during testimony,” and “the reading of the media reports was improper in light of the manner in which the FAR Defendants subsequently attempted to introduce them.”

I dont have many of the details but as soon as I get additional information and  confirming reports I will post to the AW Blog.

Stay tuned!

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