MGA Entertainment said Friday that it will seek a mistrial in its legal dispute with Mattel Inc over the popular Bratz dolls.
U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson told lawyers that a juror commented in an inappropriate way about the ethnicity of MGA's chief executive officer, Isaac Larian, who came to the United States from Iran.
"I moved today for a mistrial arguing that Mr. Larian and MGA are entitled in the federal system to a unanimous verdict of all jurors and that all jurors must be impartial and not have hidden prejudices," MGA lawyer Thomas Nolan told Reuters. "The judge suspended the presentation of further evidence, has asked for the parties to file legal briefs this next week."
At a hearing Friday in federal court in Riverside, Larson said his tentative finding was that the juror's comment was made before the verdict in the trial's first phase and didn't affect the jury's decision.
The judge will decide in an Aug. 4 hearing whether to declare a mistrial.
"Nine honest, unbiased, hardworking jurors ruled unanimously in favor of Mattel," said John Quinn Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver and Hedges LLP, which represented Mattel. "The court found that their verdict was not affected by the inappropriate comment of juror No. 8. Indeed, several of the nine jurors rebuked juror No. 8, and were justifiably appalled by her remarks. Some claimed that, if anything, the remark made them wonder if they should exercise bias in favor of MGA in response. That would be a natural reaction of a right thinking person. These nine jurors reached an unbiased, fair and just verdict under the governing law. That verdict will stand."
The jury found on July 17 that Carter Bryant, a former Mattel employee, conceived MGA's Bratz characters and name while he was employed by Mattel.
The jury also concluded that closely held MGA was liable for interference with Bryant's Mattel employment contract.
Mattel stands to gain several hundred million dollars in lost revenues and damages if it wins the case.
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