Saigon TV Owners Accused of Cheating the Station's Founder Lose Jury Verdict Appeal

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Broadcasting woes
A California Court of Appeal has blasted the owners of Saigon TV for dishonesty in their legal attempts to overturn a $472,000 judgement against them for cheating the founder of the Vietnamese language station in Little Saigon.

Following a 2010 jury trial in Orange County Superior Court, Larry Phan--the Vietnam War refugee who founded Saigon TV--was awarded damages after proving that defendants Nam Nguyen, Diane Ai-Phuong Truong and Bao-Quoc Nguyen violated good faith and fair dealing covenants, broke their fiduciary duties, committed defamation, intentionally lied and purposefully inflicted emotional distress.

The bitter mess happened after Phan, a retired Los Angeles County social worker, agreed to sell the Westminster-based station to Nguyen and Truong in 2003 for $518,000, but stayed on as president for $4,000 a month until he was rudely fired without notice in 2008.

Claiming there was insufficient evidence of their wrongdoing and the awarded damages were excessive, Nguyen and Truong appealed the verdicts that favored Phan.

But this month a three-justice appellate panel based in Santa Ana slammed their appeal brief for "its complete failure to fairly recite" facts in the case. The unamused justices also noted that key trial evidence, a video by a station security guard stalking Phan, had been brazenly doctored to support the defendants.

"Because the defendants have simply ignored evidence in their brief, needless to say, they have engaged in no reasoned analysis of whether it is sufficient to support a judgment against them," wrote Justice Kathleen E. O'Leary on behalf of justices Richard M. Aronson and Richard D. Fybel.

In the end, the justices sanctioned Phan's court victory as legally justified.

Through cable, satellite and online services, Saigon TV offers news and entertainment to Vietnamese Americans nationwide.

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