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Four Los Angeles-based Indian American Siblings Awarded $7 Billion After 20 Year Legal Battle With Fifth Brother 

Four Los Angeles-based Indian American Siblings Awarded $7 Billion After 20 Year Legal Battle With Fifth Brother 

  • Haresh Jogani was ordered to pay Shashikant, Rajesh, Chetan and Shailesh Jogani more than $2.5 billion in damages, and to divide up shares of their Southern California property empire.

Four Indian American brothers have been awarded $7 billion after a 20 year legal battle with a fifth brother over alleged breach of a family partnership agreement. Billed as one the largest verdicts in the U.S. in a decade, the jury verdict came last week after a five-month trial in Los Angeles. Haresh Jogani was ordered to pay his brothers Shashikant, Rajesh, Chetan and Shailesh Jogani more than $2.5 billion in damages,  and to divide up shares of their 17,000 apartments in Southern California. 

The siblings have been embroiled in a lawsuit since 2003 when Shashikant Jogani sued Haresh for not living up to an oral agreement made between the bothers, concerning the apartments worth billions in the San Fernando Valley. 

Bloomberg noted that the  “complex case, often likened to Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, has endured 18 appeals, numerous attorneys, and the scrutiny of five judges in the Los Angeles Superior Court.”

In a statement sent to various media houses and publications, Peter Ross of Ross LLP, who represented Rajesh and Chetan Jogani said the team is “grateful to the jurors for their decision.” He said “a long-standing wrong has been corrected, and this brother-against-brother war can come to an end.” Shashikant Jogani, who was represented by another law firm, received the biggest payout; the jury awarded him $4.75 billion, and the fifth brother, Shailesh, received $570 million.

The Jogani family from Gujarat, built a fortune in the global diamond trade, establishing outposts in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and North America. Shashikant “Shashi” Jogani moved at age 22 in 1969 to California, where he began a solo firm in the gem business and started to build a property portfolio, according to LA Business Journal. The properties suffered losses in the recession of the early 1990s, which worsened after the 1994 Northridge Earthquake killed 16 people in one of his buildings, leading Shashi to bring in his brothers as partners.

His brother Haresh was working in their father’s diamond business in India and Israel, the LA Business Journal said, “when he offered to come to California and help.” He bought about 2,600 of Shashi’s units and hired his brother as a consultant, using his knowledge of the business to find other potential units.

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The firm then “embarked on a buying spree that eventually built the portfolio to roughly 17,000 apartment units with the brothers collaborating until Haresh ‘forcibly removed’  his sibling from managing the firm and refused to pay him, the SF Gate reported, citing Shashi Jogani’s complaint. 

Haresh Jogani contended that without a written agreement, his brothers couldn’t prove they had a partnership with him. But the jury found that Haresh had broken an oral contract. It concluded Shashi owns 50% of the real estate partnership, followed by 24% to Haresh, 10% to Rajesh, 9.5% to Shailesh and 6.5% to Chetan, the youngest, who is now 62 years old, according to Ross. The initial damages award for Shashi, now 77, was $1.8 billion.

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