Defraud A Court? Compensatory Damages Are Okay But Not Punitive Damages

In CDR Créances S.A.S. v. Cohen, Index Nos. 109565/2003 and 600448/2006 (Sup. Ct., NY County, Aug. 25, 2011) (the “August Decision”), the Honorable O. Peter Sherwood granted the motions of plaintiff CDR Créances S.A.S. (“CDR”) for an order directing entry of judgment on CDR’s compensatory damages but refused to award CDR punitive damages, despite a January 25, 2011 decision (the “January Decision”) by former Justice James A. Yates that the defendants had repeatedly committed fraud upon the court.

The two actions arose out of CDR's claims that the defendants had defrauded CDR and disposed of and stole the assets of Euro-American Lodging Corporation ("EALC") and its corporate shareholders, all of which were the alleged alter egos of defendant Maurice Cohen and his son, defendant Leon Cohen. EALC borrowed more than $92 million from CDR to acquire and convert a building to a hotel operating as part of the Flatotel hotel franchise (the "New York Flatotel"), and EALC granted CDR a security interest in the shares of EALC. Approximately one year after the loan was made, CDR declared EALC in default. CDR and EALC became involved in long-drawn-out litigation that ultimately resulted in two judgment against EALC totaling more than $226 million.

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