A Cooke County jury recently handed down a $1.2 million judgment after an eight-day civil trial in the 235th District Court.
The judgment is one of the largest in county history. Court records show it concludes a civil case filed in 2012.
The jury ruled that defendant Cynthia Ann Mitsch Bearden maliciously brought criminal charges against the plaintiff, Jared Leclair, without probable cause. The jury also agreed Bearden defamed Leclair in the process, according to the documents recording the jury’s decisions.
The $1.2 million judgment against Bearden covers Leclair’s legal fees related to fighting the malicious criminal charge, the mental anguish and damage to his reputation stemming from the charge as well as $500,000 in additional damages based on the nature of the wrong and Bearden’s net worth, court documents show.
“I have not seen a judgment this large in Cooke County during my career,” Derrell Comer, a Gainesville attorney who was part of Leclair’s legal team, told the Register on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Comer praised the outcome of the case.
“We had a diverse, attentive and highly intelligent jury that was representative of our county,” Comer said in a press release. “The jury did an exceptional job listening to and sorting through the evidence presented in the trial and they sent a strong and clear message that the misuse of our legal system to cause harm to another individual should not and will not be tolerated in Cooke County.”
He added district court Judge Janelle Haverkamp “did an outstanding job presiding over this case as the case involved some unique facts and uncommon legal issues which made the case challenging for both the judge and the jury.”
Another defendant, Daniel J. Dugan, was found to have been partly responsible for the malicious prosecution, court documents dated Oct. 22 show. Comer said Bearden is suing Dugan to get him to reimburse her for a portion of the damages.