Fil-Ams Receive $74 Million Each in Lawsuit vs. Guess? Inc. Founder

Plaintiff's attorney declares "working people, women, and people of color stood tall against their tormentor" in filing counter-defamation suit; case likely to be appealed.
Attorney Cheryl Deptowicz-Diaz
Attorney Cheryl Deptowicz-Diaz, legal defense of Elizabeth Tagle, goes through some paperwork regarding the case against Guess? founder Georges Marciano.

A couple of Filipino-Americans were among the five individuals awarded a total of more than $370 million in a counter-defamation case against Guess? Inc. founder Georges Marciano.

A Los Angeles jury recently awarded Elizabeth Tagle, Camille Abat and three others $69 million apiece in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. All five were former employees of Georges Marciano Inc.

"I think the plaintiffs displayed real courage," said attorney Cheryl Deptowicz-Diaz, who represented Tagle. "They fought back against one of the most powerful and richest men they have ever known. Marciano made it his business to do everything in his power to destroy their lives. But, the jurors' verdict was a bold message that civilized society will not tolerate such disregard of people's lives. Working people, women, and people of color stood tall today against their tormentor, and they have every reason to be proud."

On his website, Marciano issued a statement saying the "trial that was a complete sham and mockery of justice."

"The actions taken by Judge [Elizabeth] White in this one-sided affair were a clear abuse of power. Mr. Marciano is confident that the Court of Appeal will overturn this unjust, abusive and excessive judgment and he will continue to fight for justice through the appeals process," the statement said.

Tagle served as Marciano's bookkeeper for nine years. Abat worked as a receptionist. In 2006, Marciano fired the five defendants "without any warning," according to Deptowicz-Diaz. The following year Marciano accused the five former employees of embezzling millions of dollars from him, stealing artwork and fine wines from his collections, and other personal belongings.

The judge threw out Marciano's lawsuit in December 2008. The employees then filed a cross complaint, alleging defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The judge found Marciano liable in May, and a jury determined that the executive had defamed the former employees and caused them emotional distress.

Deptowicz-Diaz said her client knows that this case is not over, with an appeal likely. Tagle, who declined to speak to the Asian Journal, just wants the case to be settled, according to her attorney.

Marciano, who announced he would run for Governor of California, is also suing the presiding judge in the case, alleging constitutional violations.

The 62-year-old is a founder of designer clothing label Guess? Inc. His brothers later bought out his interests for more than $200 million in the early 1990's.

Joseph Pimentel is a writer for Asian Journal.

Photo by Miko Santos

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