SAN DIEGO — Eugene Klein, former owner of the San Diego Chargers, has accepted a judge's order reducing his $10-million court victory over Al Davis and the Raiders to $2.04 million.
A San Diego County Superior Court judge last month had given Klein the choice of accepting the reduced amount or having his suit against Davis go to trial again.
"We beat him (Davis). We won. He was found guilty of malicious prosecution," Klein said Wednesday. "All the money I received I had publicly stated was going to charity. Unfortunately, the charities in San Diego won't get as much as they would have gotten. But he was roundly and soundly beaten."
Klein charged in a civil lawsuit that Davis in 1981 had maliciously singled him out as a defendant in the Raiders' antitrust case challenging the National Football League's refusal to let the Raiders move from Oakland to Los Angeles.
The Raiders won that suit, but a judge already had dismissed Klein as an individual defendant. Klein, meantime, blamed Davis for a heart attack he suffered while testifying in the case in a Los Angeles court.
The San Diego lawsuit ensued. After a lengthy trial, a jury granted Klein a $5-million compensatory verdict in December and an additional $5 million in punitive damages in January.
Davis and his attorneys, led by former San Francisco mayor Joseph Alioto, asked Judge Gilbert Harelson to reverse the verdict or order a new trial, arguing that the $10-million judgment was unsupported by the testimony and that there had been misconduct by jurors.
But Harelson ruled that the verdict against Davis and the Raiders could stand, if Klein accepted an 80% reduction in the damages. If Klein refused, Harelson said he would order a new trial.
Davis can let the case die and pay the $2.04 million, but that course, lawyers say, is complicated by litigation between Davis and his insurance company, which is reluctant to pay the judgment.
Davis' other option is to appeal the case. If he does, however, Klein can file a counter-appeal seeking to have the full, $10-million judgment reinstated.
"The decision is to talk about it some more," San Diego lawyer Gary Bailey, one of Davis' attorneys, said Wednesday.
Klein said he is not worried that he might lose if the case is retried. While he acknowledged some initial disappointment at the reduction in the amount awarded to him, Klein said it nonetheless remained a formidable amount.
"A couple of million dollars is nothing to be sneezed at," he said.