That Clippers owner Donald Sterling is a racist, cheap, and all-round rotten pile of puke is not newsworthy. But this latest line item on Sterling's ledger of awfulness certainly is: An LA jury has ordered Sterling to pay $17.3 million to actress Robyn Cohen, who had sued him because she lost most of her possessions in a fire at a West Hollywood apartment building Sterling owns.
Cohen was initially awarded $2.3 million in general damages on Monday, triggering a new trial for punitive damages. That verdict came today, to the tune of an additional $15 million. Early reports don't indicate whether Sterling intends to appeal; we have to think he will, but fuck that guy.
West Hollywood Patch said Cohen is "perhaps best known for her topless role in Wes Anderson's comedy-drama The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou," which was somehow overlooked for an Oscar nomination. She had lived in the building for 10 years and maintained that its alarm system was not working properly when the building was gutted by an electrical fire. Others who had been affected by the fire, including Kim Webster, who apparently was once a West Wing cast member, had settled out of court.
But West Hollywood Patch summed up why Cohen pressed on:
Cohen said she was told by the building manager to pay the next month's rent after the fire or face eviction and have her credit damaged, but she said she refused. She also said she declined an offer to move into another unit because she did not know if she would be safe if another fire occurred.
Cohen said she was never given back her security deposit. [Melissa Yoon, one of Cohen's lawyers] told jurors the psychiatrist determined that along with possibly curtailing Cohen's acting career, her bipolar state has left the once-outgoing woman disinterested in personal relationships.
And here's how the West Hollywood Patch characterized Sterling's concern for his tenants:
In her final argument Thursday, Yoon said the 79-year-old real estate mogul—who owns 130 buildings and 7,000 units in Southern California—has never taken responsibility for not having a fully functioning fire detection system at the time of the Sept. 28, 2009, blaze.
"Mr. Sterling sought to blame anyone but himself," Yoon said. She played a video deposition in which the billionaire, when asked about the deficiencies, replied, "So what?"
We really can't say this enough: Donald Sterling is just the worst.