Colorado Jury Returns $1.7 Million Award To Escort Stalked And Outed By Married Attorney After Court Bars Attorney From Using First Amendment Defense
Plaintiff Jerene Dildine claimed that she was harassed, physically and emotionally abused, and stalked by defendant Sean Saxon, a married attorney, whom she met when she was working as a prostitute. Following an initial relationship, defendant allegedly embarked on a pattern of domestic violence and abuse. Defendant also "outed" plaintiff as a prostitute to her family, friends, and classmates by sending them a vile letter and obscene photographs of her. Plaintiff, who had pre-existing bi-polar disorder and alcoholism, attempted suicide after the outing. Plaintiff also claimed that defendant almost immediately violated a civil restraining order that she had obtained against him. Defendant claimed that he had a First Amendment right to publish the materials. He also claimed that plaintiff’s damages were a result of her pre-existing condition, that she was faking her injuries, and that she sought therapy solely for the purpose of the lawsuit.
Plaintiff filed a complaint against defendant on Dec. 18, 2014, in the District Court of Denver County, CO. Defendant filed a claim against plaintiff's counsel, which was dismissed. The court also denied defendant’s motion to dismiss. Plaintiff filed a motion in limine asking the court to bar defendant from arguing or implying to the jury that his actions were protected by the First Amendment. Defendant filed a motion asking that plaintiff be prohibited from producing evidence regarding the letters sent by defendant to plaintiff’s family and classmates. On March 30, 2017, Judge J. Eric Elliff granted plaintiff’s motion and denied defendant’s motion.
On April 12, 2017, the jury returned a verdict of $1,700,000 for plaintiff, including $700,000 in emotional damages and $1,000,000 in punitive damages. On April 13, 2017, the court entered judgment awarding plaintiff $1,400,000, plus costs, after reducing the punitive damage award to $700,000 pursuant to C.R.S. § 13-21-102(1)(a).
According to information provided by plaintiff’s counsel, defendant could have settled the case before the protection order hearing for $5000 and a no contact agreement.
Plaintiff was represented by Thomas J. Overton of The Overton Law Firm. Defendant proceeded pro se.
Lexis Advance subscribers can view the complete summary here: Jerene Dildine v. Sean G. Saxon; 2017 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 2041.
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