A jury Monday ordered Zsa Zsa Gabor and her husband to pay Elke Sommer $2 million for allegedly telling German publications that Sommer is a financially strapped Hollywood has-been.
The Santa Monica Superior Court panel awarded Sommer $800,000 in general damages for statements attributed to Gabor and $1.2 million in general damages for statements linked to Frederick von Anhalt.
The jury was scheduled to resume deliberations today to decide punitive damages.
Sommer's attorney, Richard Posell, said the award is fair in light of the harm to Sommer's emotions and career. "A lot of people read this stuff," he said. "I don't think the jury liked this kind of conduct."
Gabor vowed to appeal, retaining well-known attorney Melvin Belli. "Her reaction is that they'll never get a nickel," said her spokesman, Phil Paladino.
The lawsuit stemmed from three 1990 articles, one in a women's magazine, Freitzeit Review, and two in the German newspaper Bild. In one article, Gabor was quoted as saying that Sommer hung out in sleazy bars and supported herself by selling her hand-knitted sweaters for $150 apiece.
"That woman is broke," Gabor was quoted as saying. "She had to sell her house in Hollywood and is now living in the worst section of town."
Sommer insisted that she is worth about $30 million deutsche marks (about $17 million) and that Gabor made the comments because she once accused Gabor of having a big behind.
The Bild articles quote Gabor's husband as accusing Sommer of lying about her age--claiming to be 49 when she was 62--and saying that she had almost no hair left on her head and looked like she was 100 years old.
Sommer filed a defamation of character and libel suit, seeking $10 million on the grounds that the statements caused her great emotional distress and hurt her career.