Callahan & Blaine Wins $16.3 Million In Classic "Brother-In-Law" Jury Trial

Michael Anthony made the classic family mistake of hiring his brother-in-law as Chief Financial Officer of his very successful insurance brokerage company. Based on family trust, Anthony also asked his brother-in-law to hold $4 million in trust for him, to safeguard it during Mr. Anthony's bitter divorce. Next, Mr. Anthony agreed to sell certain company assets to his brother-in-law-again, all on a family handshake. And finally, Mr. Anthony agreed to serve as a consultant to a new business that his brother-in-law was organizing. Then, of course, when Mr. Anthony asked to get his money back from his brother-in-law, his brother-in-law contended that such agreements never existed and denied owing Mr. Anthony any money for any reason at all.

Callahan & Blaine tried this case before an Orange County jury in February 2005 and won Mr. Anthony $6.2 million against his brother-in-law. The jury also found, by clear and convincing evidence (the highest standard known to civil law) that the brother-in-law committed fraud and converted Michael Anthony's property and assessed $10 million additional in punitive damages against the brother-in-law.

Two lessons can be learned from this case: (1) oral contracts are enforceable; and (2) be careful about trusting your brother-in-law!

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