A Thurston County Superior Court Judge on Friday ordered former Ramtha School of Enlightenment student Virginia Coverdale to pay $600,021 to JZK, Inc.
The total includes $515,000 in attorneys’ fees and $85,021 in costs.
Lawyers for JZK, Inc. had asked for $715,000. Judge Gary Tabor excluded some of the fees detailed in the motion, including what he said he considered duplicate work on the part of attorneys and excessive fees for expert witnesses.
The ruling stems from a lawsuit after the company sued Coverdale in October for posting video material from the school on YouTube.
Tabor also ordered Coverdale to submit to the court all JZK, Inc. materials acquired without authorization from the company, as well as all video depositions.
JZK, Inc. had requested that Coverdale return or permanently destroy any unauthorized JZK, Inc. materials in her possession, but Tabor said he wanted them to remain in the court’s possession since the case is being appealed.
Despite the ample fees, Coverdale’s lawyer, Breckan Scott, expressed optimism for her client. She said she accomplished her goal of establishing a “clear record of extensive errors of both fact and law” for the appellate court.
“The fees and costs in this case from JZK, Inc. were not reflective of reasonable efforts to prevent the release of proprietary information,” Scott added. “The bloated amount of fees and costs in this case were due to the extreme and invasive tactics used to pursue individuals and intimidate individuals who had no real significance in this case other than making public commentary of RSE that plaintiff wanted to suppress.
“We are in high spirits and keenly looking forward to an appellate case that we hope will establish precedent.”
JZK, Inc.’s attorney Jeffrey Grant praised Tabor’s ruling on Friday.
“I think once again Judge Tabor did the right thing,” he said. “He was up to the task and it was clear he had worked his way through the paperwork that had been submitted and brought his independent judgment to it and awarded us virtually everything that we had asked for and for that we’re grateful. But I think the thing we really take away from that is he validated the basic point, which is … RSE mounted a substantial effort to protect what was theirs to protect, and that the effort that was mounted was appropriate.”
Coverdale previously told the Nisqually Valley News she didn’t have enough money to pay for the requested fees and costs.
“They’re not getting anything from me; they knew that all along,” she said. “They know I don’t have it. … This is their way to gloat. It will be a short-lived gloat. They’re not getting anything from me and this will be overturned on appeal.”
“It saddens me to see anyone burdened by an enormous debt but that is the law,” Knight stated in an email sent on her behalf by staff members on Monday. “This case could have been over last November. Instead, Virginia chose to raise a host of reasons why she should not be accountable for posting our video. The law gave her those options. We had to defend our contract, our business, and our reputation against her attacks.”
JZK, Inc. Lawyer Andrea McNeely said on Wednesday that in order to delay enforcement of the judgment while the case is on appeal, Coverdale would have to post a bond for the $600,000 judgment, plus interest.
The judgement is good for 10 years, she said. After that 10 years, it can be renewed.
Scott said there’s no way her client could post such a bond because she doesn’t have sufficient assets to do so.
“However, we are confident that any interest that will accrue will be moot anyway because we remain confident this will be overturned on appeal,” she said.