“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 goguentruth.com 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?