ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
A Desert Community business success story is not heading for a happy ending, according to Court room sources. Richter Enterprises, a once thriving adult entertainment agency and content provider based in Phoenix is on the verge of a court ordered liquidation after post trial settlement discussions to satisfy the 10 mllion dollar punitive damage judgment foundered. Earlier this year, a 6 person Puma county jury determined Richter Enterpries and its founder Vicki Richter had libeled Felicia Katt a member of a computer discussion forum for fan's of Ms Richter. Damages had been set in advance at 10 million dollars purusuant to a stipulation reached between the parties. Richter agreed to damages to protect the members of her forums from having to testify. She had publicly expressed her innocence and confidence she would be exonerated at trial. but computer logs and files clearly showed that she had made false statements about Katt that were damaging to her reputation.
"This was never about the money" said Katt, after the verdict was announced. She represented herself at the trial, after firing her counsel of record, Duey Chietem and Howe. "They were not representing me or my position well at all. They just wanted to try to the case in the media and use hard ball tactics to get a huge verdict, when all I really wanted was my name and reputation restored" Calls to the law firm for comment were not returned. The law firm's press releases had drawn stern rebuke from Judge Smails, who had initially brokered a deal to remedy the wrong while still allowing Richter to to keep control over her business. Premature disclosure of this deal, coupled with a violation of a gag order lead to a breakdown in negotiations and set the stage for the trial.
The all women jury only deliberated for 1 hour before reaching the unanimous verdict. A juror, who spoke off the record, indicated the evidence of libel was overwhelming but that they would have only awarded minimal damages. "The Katt woman's reputation was clearly damaged by the posts, but her reputation was already so poor, it was more like a door ding on an already totalled car."
After the verdict, Judge Smails declined to immediately enter judgment and instead ordered the parties into an extraordinary post verdict mediation. But despite marathon sessions, no agreement could be reached, compelling the upcoming liquidation hearing.
Courthouse insiders were surprised by this turn of events. "Even though she was legally entitled to the substantial judgement according to the stipulation, Katt was willing to waive it in exchange for a simple public apology, but Richter just wouldn't do that." Richter, a past winner of the AVN transsexual performer award, had parlayed a Yahoo group into multimillion dollar adult entertainment conglomerate and was widely considered to be the wealthiest transsexual porn star. Her recent refusal to do any new video project had caused some to label her the laziest one. Both labels would no longer apply if the Court rules as expected Monday, putting the assets of Richter Enterprises on the auction block and requiring Richter to return to
work. "She is the company and the company is her. Unless she is actively working within it, the company has no real value" said Bill Smith, the court appointed trustee who will preside over the auction and supervise the transfer of assets. "if she would just apologize, then I'd be out of a job, happily, and not her, but unless she does, the Court's hands are tied."
Bidding was expected to be spirited but preliminary indications were that VeeVee holdings, a closely held Baltimore corporation had the inside track. Company representative declined comment, but their past track record with adult forums showed a pattern where peaceful online discussions were replaced by controversy filled rants. "Think Springer, not The View" read the posting of one concerned group member. Other posts were more cautiously optimistic, but with only a few hours left before the deadline, the odds of a happy ending for their community and for its founder are growing longer.