1. News & Issues
Charles Montaldo

Jury Clears Joe Francis in Civil Case

By April 8, 2011

Follow me on:

An all-woman jury in Panama City, Florida deliberated 14 hours before declining to award four women any damages in their civil lawsuit against "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis. Although the jury had problems with his business practices, they could not find that he was responsible for the psychological damage the plaintiffs claimed.

The four anonymous plaintiffs said they suffered emotional injuries after being filmed during Spring Break at Panama City Beach when they were under 18 years of age.

"I'm feeling fantastic," Francis told reporters. "I'm just happy it's over. This thing has dragged on long enough."

Held in Contempt of Court

Francis had represented himself during the two-week trial until Judge Smoak charged him with contempt of court and fined him $2,500 after he asked one of the plaintiffs during cross examination if she was a prostitute.

The same day, attorneys Rachel Seaton-Virga and Gerard Virga were hired to take over the defense.

Judge Smoak is the same judge who ordered Francis to jail for almost a year back in 2007 when he refused to sit down and negotiate a settlement with these plaintiffs.

Judge Smoak repeatedly warned Francis during the trial that his aggressive cross examination of the plaintiffs would not serve him well with the all-woman jury. Francis told the judge that was his mistake to make.

Standing Up for Right?

Francis said his treatment of the plaintiffs worked because he showed they there were not victims. "I think it helped. I think the judge was wrong," he said. "I shook them like a tree until all the fruit fell out, and I shook them violently."

"I wouldn't say I got a fair trial, but you know what, I got a fair result," Francis said. "I went up against the same judge who put me in jail... and I still had the (courage) to stand up there and fight for what was right."

The jury's ruling was not an endorsement of Francis and his "Girls Gone Wild" business practices.

The jury said they found that "the evidence did support the statement that Francis' behavior was beyond all possible bounds of decency and is regarded as shocking, atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community, but not with intent to cause emotional distress..."

The jury had to follow the law which says that Francis and his company had to have the intention to cause the plaintiffs psychological harm when they paid them $100 to show their breasts on camera.

See Also:
Judge issues contempt order against Joe Francis
Jury rules for Joe Francis, 'Girls Gone Wild'

The Legal Troubles of Joe Francis

What Is Your Opinion?
Discuss The Joe Francis Case

Free Newsletter:
Get the Crime & Punishment Newsletter

Photo: Mug Shot


April 13, 2011 at 11:00 am
(1) csws says:

In my opinion, Joe Francis is a predator among young women. Again, in my opinion, I think he’s a pig and in the same category as other sexual predators that don’t belong in our society.

April 27, 2011 at 2:02 pm
(2) RB says:

Agreed. He is a predator and deserves prison.

April 14, 2011 at 8:20 am
(3) John Dough says:

These ‘girls’ are not victims. They willingly bared all for everyone to see, there just happened to be a camera around to record it. They act like sluts when there’s no camera, why do they suddenly act all prudent and claim ‘victim’ and then demand money? What about all the boys with cell phone pictures and videos? THEIR ‘behavior was beyond all possible bounds of decency and is regarded as shocking, atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community’.

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>
  1. About.com
  2. News & Issues
  3. Crime / Punishment

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.