There are many reasons why money seems to change hand every year not only in the United States courts, but also in many other countries around the world. Settlements, in forms of assets and cash, are awarded to the ‘victim’s by the judge and jury. Attorneys and their law firms know that these lawsuits can reach extremely high amounts. If you have ever experienced being on either side of a large lawsuit, you know for yourself that the costs (aside from the payments needed to be made to the attorneys or firms) can easily and definitely skyrocket. With this being said, you may be interested in learning about the most expensive lawsuit settlements ever.
Rupert Murdoch’s Divorce Settlement
After Rupert Murdoch inherited the Australian newspaper company that his father owned, he began his billion dollar worldwide company News Corporation. With some of his holdings including Wall Street Journal, the 20th Century Fox, and Fox News, he was able to amass a personal wealth of more than $11 billion. Then his wife filed for a divorce.
The second marriage of Rupert Murdoch, which was to Anna Torv, lasted for 32 years. It was the time where the news mogul was able to earn much of his wealth. It only seemed fair that Torv should get a portion of his wealth, and this is what she got. In one of the biggest divorce settlements in history, the former wife of Murdoch received assets amounting to nearly $2 billion. In addition to this, she was also the recipient of $110 million, which was personally given to her by ex-husband Rupert himself.
So what happened? It seems that Rupert Murdoch was not able to stay true to his wife of 32 years. Unfortunately for Murdoch, then wife Anna found out about it. Seventeen days after the second marriage of the news mogul was divorced, he started his third. His third marriage was with Wendi Deng, the very person that he was supposedly having an affair with.
Countrywide Financial Corporation’s Civil Rights Settlement
Sad to say, up to this very day, racism is still alive in the United States. Fortunately, the courts are doing their part about it. What we are referring to here is the subtle racism of the white-collared dwellers in many of the cities in the country.
Many of the undeniable cases of racism happen in the real estate, insurance, and banking industries. A practice referred to as ‘red lining’ takes place in these industries. The practice is basically where insurance companies and lenders offer non-white clients with a whole different, not to mention extremely expensive, insurance and mortgage rates. Many of these white neighborhoods are then able to generate significantly higher returns on every investment that a homebuyer makes.
Sometime back in 2011, the Justice Department finally stepped in. Despite the fact that the red lining practice is an epidemic plaguing the entire country, the court made out the Countrywide Financial Corporation to be the poster child of this particular type of prejudice. The Justice Department revealed evidence that the Countrywide Financial Corporation overcharged about 200,000 minority clients. There were even cases wherein perfectly qualified applicants were pushed towards unnecessarily high risk subprime mortgages. The evidence, which was so damning, resulted in the company no longer wanting to put up a fight. As a result, it agreed to pay about $335 million to the borrowers that they overcharged.
Ashley Alford and the Sexual Harassment Settlement She Received
To those who do not have any idea on what Aaron’s is, it is actually a rent-to-own store chain that specializes in electronics, appliances, and furniture. It has more than 2,000 stores nationwide and also in Canada. The company also has multiple tie-ins with NASCAR, which means that it definitely is a thriving and flourishing business. To many, it only seemed logical that the company has a fully functioning Human Resources department. Apparently, this is one of the greatest problems of the company.
Ashley Alford, an employee of Aaron’s in St. Louis, called up the harassment hotline at the national office. She did not get any response whatsoever. According to her, she was groped, teased, talked dirty to, and poked by her manager. In fact, a little shortly after he phoned the hotline, she was assaulted almost to the point of having been raped entirely. She decided to stand up and got herself a lawyer.
The St. Louis Aaron’s employee testified in court. She spoke of the things that her boss did to her. She even presented DNA evidence that was left on her uniform. The jury decided to make her the recipient of a settlement amounting to $95 million, which is twice more than the former federal cap for any lawsuit in the area for sexual harassment.
The Lawsuit against the Princeton University
Princeton University, as you may well be aware of, is a large school with plenty of employees and properties. With this being said, it should no longer come as a surprise that the school had to deal with some of the most expensive lawsuits in history.
However, out of all these lawsuits, the most expensive one was about an endowment that was made and established in the 60’s. It was all about how this was controlled. The original gift giver’s family decided to sue the school regarding the control and the purpose of the private foundation.
In a news article that was published in 2004, it was reported that both the family and the school had already spent more than $7 million just for the lawsuit. In the official website of Princeton University, it was explained that the settlement was finally reached in December 2008.
Equitable Life and Its Battle with Former Auditors
The United Kingdom’s most expensive lawsuit was between Equitable Life and its former auditors, which took place in April 2005. Equitable Life filed a lawsuit against Ernst & Young, its former auditors, as well as 15 other ex-directors of the company, stating that these parties were negligent in not determining deficiencies in some of the accounts it held.
Equitable Life claimed that the company had suffered from 1.7 billion pounds (U.S. $2.4 billion) in damages. It was estimated that the legal fees to be incurred would reach up to 100 million pounds (U.S. $144 million). Four months later, the company decided to drop the lawsuit.
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