A Miami jury awarded home builder Lennar Corp. $1 billion in its civil lawsuit against a California developer who Lennar says was behind a smear campaign in 2008 and 2009.
The Circuit Court jury in Miami late Monday awarded $802 million in compensatory damages and $200 million in punitive damages against Nicolas Marsch III and his company, Briarwood Capital LLC. The award is the latest twist in a seven-year spat that included the 2011 guilty plea and jailing of self-styled fraud investigator Barry Minkow, who admitted his report alleging fraud by Lennar was false, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Marsch told the Journal he will review his options and stands by his allegations against one the largest U.S. home builders.
Lennar chief executive officer Stuart Miller acknowledged it is unlikely his company will collect $1 billion from Marsch. In a statement, Miller said "the jury award represents a complete vindication of Lennar's reputation and good name."
The Journal reported that Marsch and Miami-based Lennar first clashed in 2006 over a partnership to build a community near San Diego. Marsch sued Lennar in California state court, alleging that the home builder had misappropriated $200 million from their joint venture.
Lennar won that case, then sued Marsch in Florida state court in 2008, alleging conspiracy to extort money from it and defamation. The Florida case is the one in which the jury awarded $1 billion to Lennar.