• Cullen and Dykman LLP Blogs

  • Archives

  • Jury Awards Ex-Intern $18 million for Attacks by her CEO Boss

    In recent headlines, private equity CEO, Benjamin Wey, was found liable for defaming, sexually harassing and retaliating against former New York Global Group Intern Hanna Bouveng. The jury awarded her $2 million in compensatory damages plus $16 million in punitive damages.

    Bouveng claimed that she was forced to have sex with Wey in the $3,600-per-month Tribeca apartment he rented for her. Wey allegedly took Bouveng to dinner, gave her a $2,000 Prada bag and plied her with drinks before having sex, according to court documents. They allegedly had sex several more times, but Bouveng claims that she started seeing someone else shortly after in an attempt to avoid Wey. Bouveng was allegedly fired after Wey walked in on her boyfriend lying in bed in the Manhattan apartment he rented for her. Wey denied having sex with Bouveng, and said he had fired her because her love of the club scene interfered with her work.

    Strengthening her case, Bouveng admitted numerous printed attacks on her by Wey into evidence. Among these were emails to her family members and posts to Wey’s website, the Blot, labeling her a prostitute, fraudster and alcoholic. “I saw a 6-foot-tall homeless black man named James lying on her bed. The man was totally naked, dirty, totally drunk and perhaps on illegal drugs,” Wey wrote to Bouveng’s father, Nils Sundqvist, in one email entered into evidence.

    After just a few hours of deliberation, the jury awarded Bouveng $500,000 for sexual harassment and $1.5 million for defamation. Interestingly, she was awarded just $1 for the alleged retaliation that she suffered after she called it quits with Wey and he fired her. The jury did not find Wey liable on the claims of assault and battery but after additional deliberations, awarded Bouveng $16 million in punitive damages for the sexual harassment, defamation and retaliation claims.

    This case is an important reminder to always be cautious when posting online and sending emails because those texts can come back to haunt you. Additionally, employers should ensure that their sexual harassment policies are up to date and being followed by all employers and employees.

    If you or your institution has any questions or concerns regarding employment or e-discovery related issues, please email Cynthia A. Augello at caugello@cullenanddykman.com or call her at (516) 357-3753.

    A special thank you to Lauren Dwarika, a law clerk at Cullen and Dykman LLP, for her assistance with this blog post.