A Los Angeles area judge denied a new trial for a Santa Monica-based air charter service that was ordered to pay $20.25 million for secretly videotaping Michael Jackson and his lawyers as they flew to the pop star’s surrender on molestation charges in 2003. Superior Court Judge Soussan G. Bruguera rejected the motion by the now-defunct company XtraJet Inc. and its owner Jeffrey Borer. In March, Bruguera ordered XtraJet to pay the $20.25 million to Jackson’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, and his associate, Pat Harris, for invading their privacy in order to sell the video of Jackson to the media. The pop star was a plaintiff in the 2003 lawsuit, but later withdrew from the case. Borer and his associate Arvel Jetter Reeves, the mechanic who installed cameras in the plane, pleaded guilty to conspiracy last year. Borer was sentenced to six months home detention so he could care for his ailing wife, while Reeves received an eight-month prison sentence. Borer’s lawyer, Lloyd Kirschbaum, said he would appeal the compensatory and punitive awards. Kirschbaum said the judge ignored crucial evidence in favor of his client because she mistakenly believed that the tape included sound. Without audio captured on the tape, Geragos and Harris could not claim a breach of the attorney-client privilege, Kirschbaum argued. He also said the plaintiff won’t be able to collect from XtraJet because the company is bankrupt. “It’s like trying to get money from Enron,” Kirschbaum said. Geragos’ attorney, Brian Kabateck, praised the decision. He said Kirschbaum’s motion raised the same issues the defense had argued unsuccessfully before. Even if the tape, which is in the hands of the FBI, had no audio on it when obtained by authorities, the intention was to record conversations, said Kabateck.
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