A verdict of nearly $40 million issued four years ago in Dallas recently was affirmed as a $288 million judgment against Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse. Of course, as with most legal appeals, the story continues.
The case over a failed Las Vegas real estate deal ended its current local run with the recent 35-page ruling authored by Justice Elizabeth Lang-Miers of the 5th District Court of Appeals in Dallas.
The next stop apparently will be in Austin at the Supreme Court of Texas since Credit Suisse almost immediately announced its intention to appeal.
Failed Deal Leads to Vegas-sized Judgment
The ruling addresses Credit Suisse’s failed attempt to void the original 2014 verdict and eventual judgment in favor of the Dallas investment firm Highland Capital Management. Jurors awarded $40 million against Credit Suisse after finding the company duped Highland into investing $250 million to help refinance a Las Vegas resort.
When Lake Las Vegas went belly up as part of the 2008 financial crisis, Highland sued based on allegations that Credit Suisse knowingly manipulated the property’s perceived value by relying on a faulty appraisal, among other claims.
Even though the state district jury in Dallas agreed with Highland, the case continued to go through additional legal wrangling. The trial court eventually approved the verdict amount and signed a 2015 judgment for more than $288 million after ruling that Highland was owed additional damages beyond the $40 million jury award.
Why Appeals Cases Take So Long
With a jury verdict, court judgment and favorable appeals court ruling, some might think Highland is about to pocket a hefty chunk of change. Not so fast. In the land of appeals, as this case perfectly illustrates, the devil is in the details.
In every Texas case when a trial court enters a judgment where money is awarded, the losing party can post a court-approved supersedeas bond or cash deposit to cover the amount.
By doing so, companies such as Credit Suisse can prevent winning parties like Highland from enforcing a judgment while the case is on appeal. Like a lot of big companies, Credit Suisse can find $288 million between its couch cushions, which is one of the many reasons why appeals can take so long to resolve.
Now that Credit Suisse has announced its intention to appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, and since it can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in the event of an adverse ruling, it may be years before this legal saga reaches its eventual end.
Although the legal profession strives to uphold the idea that “justice delayed is justice denied,” the truth is that any court case can be delayed if one or more parties have the financial wherewithal and internal fortitude to continue the fight through appeals. Eventually, it’s up to our courts to decide the justice part.