Judge approves $14 million jury award
A $14 million award that was previously described as the largest in Douglas County and possibly the state has been given final approval.
Douglas District Judge David Gamble approved the award Oct. 24, a little over two months after the Nevada Supreme Court raised it by $1.5 million.
In August, the high court ordered stockbroker Warren House and the Stateline office of Dean Witter Reynolds to repay $4.1 million to the heirs of Elfreda Gardner, a former Douglas County resident. The decision increased a 1996 jury award of $2.6 million.
The supreme court also upheld the jury’s finding that Dean Witter should pay $6 million in punitive damages, while House should pay $50,000.
With interest, the amount totalled $14,350,000.
The final agreement calls for a $400,000 cut in interest. In exchange, pending motions will be withdrawn and the case can be resolved, which lawyers for both sides agreed was in their best interests.
The case involved management of Gardner’s assets. A jury decided Witter and House knowingly helped deplete Gardner’s estate by mishandling her money, and ordered $2.6 million in compensatory damages, as well as the punitive damages.
Also implicated was Gardner’s nephew Jack, who took control of $8 million worth of her assets and continued to transfer her assets to his own control after Elfreda died in 1993, despite a Dean Witter policy of freezing the accounts of deceased clients.
Jack Gardner’s estate made an out-of-court settlement with Elfreda’s estate, as did a bank, an executor of Jack Gardner’s estate and a lawyer.
Gardnerville attorney Milos Terzich, who helped represent Gardner’s estate, said at the time of the Supreme Court order that the $14 million award was the biggest single-plaintiff award ever in Douglas County and possibly the state.