ST. GEORGE – St. George resident and Phoenix trial attorney Robert Mitchell obtained a $38.3 million jury verdict for his client Wednesday from a Nevada federal jury in an Internet defamation lawsuit.
On Feb. 17, after nearly four years waiting for trial, an eight-member jury panel in the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas entered a unanimous verdict in a civil trial in favor of Los Angeles businessman Bradley Cohen.
The court awarded Cohen and his company, Cohen Asset Management, Inc., $35.3 million in damages for defamation per se and false light invasion of privacy, with an additional $3 million in punitive damages.
“Mr. Mitchell and his client express their heartfelt gratitude for the jury’s decision, and believe the jury’s verdict sends a very powerful message to those who would abuse the Internet to defame others,” the lead trial counsel said in a media statement Friday.
The lawsuit was spurred after the defendants, a disgruntled ex-tenant and owner of Northwest Territorial Mint and an employee, posted a website falsely comparing Cohen and his business to Bernie Madoff, who is currently serving 150 years in prison for a fraudulent Ponzi scheme uncovered in 2008.
The website included pictures of Cohen next to Madoff with text that read: “Is Bradley S. Cohen the next Bernie Madoff?” According to court documents, Cohen claimed the website, which also compared the alleged similarities between Cohen and Madoff’s businesses, was set up in retaliation to damage Cohen’s reputation and hurt his business.
Northwest Territorial Mint LLC, a minter of commemorative coins, leased space from an entity affiliated with Cohen’s business, according to court documents. The affiliate later hit the mint company with two lawsuits over alleged breaches of a lease agreement and claimed damages of over $1 million.
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