Ronald Perleman in center having an aliya as Rabbi Avrohom Shemtov looks on
After just 90 minutes of deliberations yesterday, a federal court jury ruled against billionaire financier Ron Perelman and ordered him to fork over the $16 million owed to his former business partner.
Donald Drapkin had sued Perelman and his MacAndrews & Forbes investment firm, claiming he was stiffed out of the cash when he left M&F in 2007 to form a hedge fund.
Perelman, worth $12 billion, returned fire, suing Drapkin, claiming he shouldn’t have to pay him one thin dime because his one-time friend broke his contract by, in part, attempting to woo an M&F executive to the fund.
M&F also claimed that Drapkin stole some company documents.
Elkan Abramowitz, Drapkin’s lawyer, told the jury Perelman’s side was “concocting” reasons not to pay his client what he was rightfully owed.
In closing arguments, Matthew Menchel, a lawyer for M&F, urged jurors not to be swayed by Perelman’s $12 billion wealth, noting that Drapkin already had been paid “millions of dollars” in earlier separation checks.
“Mr. Perelman and MacAndrews & Forbes are entitled to the same amount of justice as everyone else,” Menchel told jurors.
After three days of testimony, the working-class jury didn’t believe Perelman’s case. The 69-year-old executive didn’t take the stand to testify — Drapkin did.
Also taking the stand was Drapkin’s personal assistant, Nancy Link, whose laptop computer contained some of the disputed documents.
Following the verdict, juror Nibaldo Aguilera told Bloomberg that the amount of compensation at issue was “obscene, but we acted in accordance with the law.”
“It is sad that friends for 20 or 25 years ended in that way,” he said.