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.
Photo: Mug Shot