Could coronashutdown help people forget old scandals?

“Former Sequoia Partner Wins Extortion Suit Against Ex-Mistress” (Bloomberg, January 3, 2020):

A salacious three-year legal battle involving a former partner at Sequoia Capital, a onetime exotic dancer and a promised $40 million hush money payment has come to an end.

A California Superior Court judge ruled in favor of venture capitalist Michael Goguen, finding his former mistress Amber Laurel Baptiste committed fraud and extortion when she threatened to publicize false claims, including that he gave her a sexually transmitted infection. The judge ordered Baptiste to pay back the full $10.25 million she got from Goguen. After a three-day trial that Baptiste didn’t attend, the court also approved a restraining order to protect Goguen and his current wife, Jamie Goguen.

She said she has already spent nearly $5 million of the money Goguen gave her on legal fees…

How complex is the case?

Goguen and Baptiste have said they met in 2002 at strip club in Dallas where she was working, and they began spending time together. In 2014, Goguen paid Baptiste $10 million in what was to be the first of four installments to sever communication and keep details of their affair and other allegations under wraps.

In her 2016 complaint, Baptiste alleged that Goguen sexually abused her for more than a decade, infected her and then reneged on a promise to pay the full $40 million. Goguen countersued, calling the affair consensual and accusing her of extortion. Goguen claimed he stopped paying her because she violated their contract by continuing to contact him and then broke their confidentiality agreement with her suit.

Stripping and sex can be complex, no doubt, but $5 million would ordinarily be considered a reasonable outcome in compensation for a wrongful death. If we assume that his fees were twice hers, that’s $15 million in transaction costs.

Leaving the question of why we’re happy with a legal system in which it costs $15 million in fees to settle a seemingly straightforward dispute of how much someone should be paid for having sex, does coronashutdown help people such as Mr. Goguen (his site is and suggests that he is still lying low)? Can people who’ve been locked into their apartments for a year get excited about an old scandal?


Posted in Law

3 thoughts on “Could coronashutdown help people forget old scandals?

  1. I’m certainly not very excited about it, and aside from the gawker effect and among certain rarified echelons of the legal profession, I don’t understand why anyone else is, either. It certainly seems like a huge waste of money that could have been better employed otherwise if these two idiots could just have agreed to wipe up their stains and part ways without all the drama. And whatever commentary it is on our rapidly-disintegrating society, well, it’s just example Number 394,293,670. I guess it would have been more interesting and salacious if he had tried to have her pushed into an industrial band saw and made into Strip Steaks.

    But one of the links on his page indicates that he’s fascinated with gene editing technology:

    “This technology could lead to a very different world,” Goguen told the large crowd assembled at the college’s Arts and Technology Building. “For the first time in human history, we have the ability to change the code of anything.”

    So I guess it’s great that dudes with all that money and judgment so piss-poor are the Masters of the Universe when it comes to editing the genome.

  2. > She said she has already spent nearly $5 million of the money Goguen gave her on legal fees…

    Someone who got the energy and time, can you please help me understand how a case like this would cost nearly $5 million? Even if the lawyer is charging $1000 an hour (a Google lookup tells me the average is $300) that means 1000 hours of lawyer’s time, which is 25 weeks at 40 hours work week or 1/2 a year. Yes, I get it that there are other cost involved too, but still.

  3. America is about the only country in the world that i know of that does not have some form of loser pays system so bogus cases are rampant. A lawsuit without loser pays is basically a one way bet. You also don’t know how this case was financed — she seems to say she paid an hourly but I would be skeptical since a deep pocket defendant is highly attractive to the lawyers and other miscreants who fund these sorts of things. As anyone who has ever been involved in the legal system, either as a lawyer or litigant knows, the system is run to benefit the lawyers, the judges, and the various hangers on, experts, court employees and so on. There are ostensible fairness reasons why this or that is done but the result is massive costs that only benefit the lawyers. On the other hand being a lawyer is a dreary job that for most is not all that remunerative & hourly billing is about as transparent way to sell the hours of your life for money as it comes. So on average they are not to be envied.

Comments are closed.