Panama City - Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis has gone home with his bank accounts intact. Early Thursday morning a federal jury decided Francis is not liable for emotional distress suffered by four women who were suing him and three of his companies. They ruled the women should not receive any money.
The trial some called a circus came to an end early Thursday morning after a twelve hour jury deliberation. Francis himself admits he didn't expect the outcome.
"By one in the morning no. I was definitely pacing the floor...When i got the call i jumped for joy and screamed because this is finally over," Francis said.
Francis started the trial defending himself. But after receiving a contempt order during cross-examination of one of the plaintiffs,he hired local attorneys Rachel Seaton-Virga and Gerard Virga.
"You don't often see attorneys come in mid-case where someone been representing themselves pro se. We had limited discovery so coming into this i was definitely a little nervous," Seaton-Virga said.
"Rachel and Gerard Virga are two of the best lawyers I've ever worked with. They deserve a lot of credit...but i was able to cross examine, pick a jury, represent myself," Francis said referring to the first few days of the trial. He cross-examined all of the plaintiff's himself before hiring representation.
Despite Judge Richard Smoak's continual threat and warnings, his attorney's felt Fancis did a good job representing himself.
"Mr. Francis has to be given some credit because he had the courage to come down here to face the allegations himself to face this federal court and federal jury panel and to defend himself," Gerard Virga said.
"This is also so personal to me...This is my name the past eight years that's been dragged through the mud," Francis said.
Attorneys for the four women refused to comment after the verdict.
Panama City - After deliberating for twelve hours, the eight-woman jury awarded no damages to the four girls suing Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis. The verdict came in shortly before 1 a.m. Thursday morning.
The jury found none of the plaintiffs suffered emotional distress at the hands of the defendant. Francis' three corporations had already been found liable in a default judgment prior to the trial, but the jury also excused them from any damages.
The jury began deliberating just before 1 p.m Wednesday, and over the course of the twelve hour deliberation, it only broke twice to ask Judge Richard Smoak questions related to the case. The first question they asked was "Who is Aero Falcons?" Aero Falcons is one of Francis' companies and one of the defendants in the case. However, the company was never brought up during the civil trial, which caused confusion to the point where the jurors were not sure of who all the defendants were.
Four girls sued Francis and his companies for damages they claim they suffered after a Girls Gone Wild crew filmed them while they were underaged.