HBO Pleads with NY Judge Not to Tell Jury about Time-Warner Billions


A judge indicates that what HBO's parent company made in revenue last year could be relevant in a calculation of punitive damages.
 Courtesy of HBO
.by Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter        May 6 2015

A judge indicates that what HBO’s parent company made in revenue last year could be relevant in a calculation of punitive damages.

On Wednesday, a New York federal judge gave HBO a real reason to be concerned about the outcome of a trial examining whether a 2008 report about child labor in India defamed Mitre Sports International, one of the biggest soccer brands in the world.The trial is three weeks old and will be wrapping up tomorrow. Mitre is suing HBO for allegedly tarnishing its reputation through a Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel report that allegedly contained fabrications of children stitching soccer balls for pennies to pay off their parents’ debt.

What had Dane Butswinkas, attorney for HBO, seething in court this morning was the prospect that a jury could be hearing that Time Warner made $5.4 billion in revenue last year.

U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels hasn’t made a firm decision on whether to allow punitive damages if HBO is found liable, but he’s been sending off signals that a jury might get to weigh such punishment. What’s worse for HBO, the jury could be told by the other side they should factor the money collected by HBO’s parent company in deciding how to dole out punitive damages.

Butswinkas said allowing the jury hear about Time Warner billions would be “highly prejudicial… compounded that this is the last thing the jury will hear.”

But the judge said, “You haven’t convinced me that [Time Warner’s] financial condition isn’t relevant to punitive damages,” and even gave an example that a person who makes $10 who is found liable, can be punished by $10 in punitive damages.

HBO is arguing that the judge should preclude punitive damages because there’s insufficient evidence to show it acted with malice in the controversial 2008 report.



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