In the case of Steven Saxton, Hollywood Studios International v. Faisal S. Al Saud, California appellate court, it was decided on March 11, 2016 that the trial court should have entered a JNOV on Prince Faisal’s breach of contract cause of action because no evidence showed Prince Faisal suffered damages. Effectively erasing a jury’s award of $520,000 to Prince Faisal and ruling in favor of Sir Steven. The court further concluded the trial court acted within its discretion in granting a new trial on the conversion cause of action after concluding that the misconduct “permeated” the verdict. Furthermore, the court afﬁrmed the order granting a new trial of the conversion cause of action.
Judge Terry A. Green wrote that “Prince Faisal Al Saud’s attorney had introduced impermissible evidence in his closing argument, swaying the jury and making the defense attorney out to be a liar.” Faisal’s lawyer Greg Haﬁf was handed undisputed misconduct sanctions during closing arguments for lying to the jury. Faisal was seeking payment of expenses incurred while he was working for Saxton’s Hollywood Studios International, which is part of the lawsuit he ﬁled in January 2012. The judge dismissed Faisal’s claim for punitive damages against Saxton for the ﬁlm producer keeping a Maserati. The Superior Court Judge Green said, “It’s inconceivable to me that any part of this galaxy would ﬁnd malice, fraud or oppression that Mr. Saxton kept a car he mostly paid for.” he further went on to say, “There’s not event a scintilla of evidence that when the promise was made to invest that Mr. Saxton and Hollywood Studios International had no intent to perform. It stretches credulity well beyond the breaking point.” Faisal testiﬁed that during the period of time he did not have his Maserati he drove a Bentley Flying Spur that cost over $220,000.
In 2013, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge granted ﬁlm producer Steven Saxton’s motion for a new trial, erasing a jury’s award of $520,000 to the Saudi prince who’d claimed Saxton kept a Maserati sports car and breached a contract for their movie project. The judge tossed the Saudi prince’s punitive damages and fraud claims against Saxton, midway through a trial over their Hollywood business venture, ruling the prince had presented no evidence that the producer acted with malice or intended to defraud. Saxton was granted a motion for nonsuit on the claims Faisal was seeking payment of expenses incurred while he was working for Saxton’s Hollywood Studios International. Judge Green also found that the jury hadn’t taken into account the money Saxton and his ﬁlm company, Hollywood Studios International, had already paid to Faisal in commissions, rent and money for the car, according to the decision.“While he made a case that he was entitled to some commissions, the amount of commissions owed was left to speculation,” Judge Green wrote in Monday’s order. “Speculate is what the jury did.”
Sir Steven Saxton is one of the producers of the Academy Award-nominated ﬁlms The Kids Are All Right and Lone Survivor.
Faisal is represented by Gregory K. Haﬁf of the Law Ofﬁce of Herbert Haﬁf.
Saxton and HSI are represented by Michael J. Avenatti and Ahmed Ibrahim of Eagan Avenatti LLP.
The case is Faisal S. Al Saud v. Steven J. Saxton et al., case number BC476972, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.