Bruce Tran, one-time mayoral candidate for Westminster, and Vice-President of the Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California, was found liable for more than $1.5 million for defrauding his business partner.
The judgment hit Tran and his associate Suzanne Nguyen with breach of fiduciary duty, conversion (i.e. theft), and also malice oppression and fraud justifying punitive damages. The verdict, being in a civil case, did not require unanimity, but the jury was unanimous anyway, ruling 12-0.
Bruce Tran is the Vice-President of a group named “Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California” (“Ban Đại Diện Cộng Đồng“). Voted in by a public election last year, the group answers to the Interfaith Council (“Hội Đồng Liên Tôn“).
The jury awarded the plaintiff Thomas Nguyen, a radio operator and entertainer known in the Vietnamese community as Quoc Thai, $1,485,000.
After the verdict was rendered, together with a finding that punitive damages are warranted, the parties stipulated to the punitive amount of $150,000.
Don’t know what the defendants were thinking when they stipulated. Such a stipulation would be inconsistent with any claim later (say, on appeal), that says the jury findings of liability is erroneous.
The lawsuit is a result of a previous lawsuit (read about the previous one here).
In the previous lawsuit, Thomas Nguyen/Quoc Thai sued Tran, Suzanne Nguyen, and the media company that Quoc Thai founded, VHN-TV. Quoc Thai claimed that the defendants unlawfully freezed him out of his ownership in the company. The court ruled that each defendant got 30%, a consultant got 10%, and VHN-TV must pay Quoc Thai $300,000.
But then Bruce Tran issued himself a huge number of shares, diluting Quoc Thai’s ownership down to 3%. So he sued, and this judgment resulted.