A jury awarded developer Rick Caruso $74 million in compensatory damages Thursday on his claim that the owner of the Glendale Galleria made illegal business threats to try to prevent a restaurant chain from moving into his competing complex, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The Los Angeles County Superior Court jury found that the Galleria's owner, General Growth Properties, engaged in "fraud, malice and oppression" to undermine Caruso Affiliated's Americana at Brand retail-and-residential center in Glendale. The $264-million development is scheduled to open next to the Galleria early in 2008.

In its suit, Caruso's company alleged that the Galleria's owner tried to stop the Cheesecake Factory from signing a lease with Americana by threatening to slow down or scuttle deals between the restaurant chain and other malls owned by the real estate company.

Chicago-based General Growth has more than 200 malls in 45 states.

General Growth still faces potential punitive damages on top of the $74 million in compensatory damages. The jury will begin hearing the punitive damages phase of the case Tuesday.

Citing the ongoing legal proceedings, officials of both the Caruso company and General Growth declined to comment on Thursday's verdict.

For Caruso, the former president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, the ruling marked another step forward in a long-running battle to build the Americana at Brand.

Read the full L.A. Times story .(registration required)

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.